Progress on equality is 'painfully slow'

October 26, 2001

Figures released today revealed small increases in the number of women and ethnic minority academics working as professors, senior lecturers and researchers. But lecturing unions say progress is painfully slow and they will use the data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency to bolster the case for greater transparency in promotion and appointment procedures in talks with university employers next week.

Women make up 12 per cent of the professariat and 24 per cent of senior lecturer and researcher grades - an increase of approximately 2 percentage points each between 1998-99 and 1999-2000.

Four per cent of professors and 5 per cent of senior lecturer and researcher grades declared themselves to be from non-white minority ethnic groups - up from 2.3 and 3.4 per cent two years ago, according to 1999-2000 data published exclusively in The THES. One in ten declined to disclose their ethnic origin.

Women hold just 3 per cent of professorships at the University of Huddersfield and 5 per cent at Lancaster and Cranfield universities.

But at the University of East London, women make up 44 per cent of the professariat and 38 per cent at the Institute of Education, 28 per cent at South Bank University and 23 per cent at the University of Wolverhampton.

In Wales, only 7 per cent of professors are women, compared with 11 per cent in Scotland and 12 per cent in England and in Northern Ireland.

Wales also lags behind in appointing minority ethnic professors - recording only 2 per cent. Some 11 per cent of professors in the principality declined to declare their ethnicity.

At Bangor and Glamorgan universities, where no non-white minority ethnic professors are recorded, there were no refusals.

The Association of University Teachers and lecturers' union Natfhe will meet university employers on Wednesday and Thursday in separate working parties.

The working parties have been set up by the Joint National Committee on pay, which was recommended by the Bett report. They cover pay spines, equal pay for equal work and modernisation, including contacts.

Tom Wilson, head of universities at Natfhe said: "Hesa figures show some small improvement but progress is still painfully slow.

"Universities ought to be required to establish their own internal targets, publish them and be accountable for the progress they make towards meeting them. That is what we will try to negotiate nationally."

Mr Wilson said that he would like to use the figures to speed progress towards achieving some kind of equality between men and women and achieving proportionality on the ethnic front.

Natalie Fenton, president of the AUT, said the figures flagged up the urgent need for progress. She said that any movement towards greater equality in appointments and promotions was welcome. She said that next week's working parties would "change the whole employment structure of higher education".

The union will argue for completely transparent promotion procedures, operating on objective and measurable criteria.


Top ten
East London 44%
Uni Col Worcs 40%
Surrey, Roehampton 39%
Institute of Education 38%
Chester Col. of HE 33%
Northumbria 32%
South Bank 28%
Cant. Christchurch 26%
Glasgow Caledonian 25%
Bucks Chiltern Uni. 25%

Bottom ten
Abertay, Dundee* 0%
Huddersfield 3%
Cranfield 5%
Lancaster 5%
Wales, Aberystwyth 6%
Wales, Bangor 6%
Strathclyde 6%
Aston 6%
Heriot-Watt 6%
Paisley 6%


Top ten
Institute of Education 54%
Surrey, Roehampton 50%
Lond Sch. of H & T M 49%
Goldsmiths 45%
Edge Hill Col. 44%
Queen Margaret 44%
Kingston 43%
Derby 42%
Hertfordshire 41%
Ripon and York St John 38%

Bottom ten
Scot Agricultural Col. 4%
Bournemouth 5%
Heriot-Watt 6%
Soas 9%
Umist 9%
Bath 10%
St Andrews 10%
Cardiff 11%
Aston 11%
Cranfield 12%

» New statistics:  Gender and ethnicity of academic staff (1999/2000)

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