The RAE engenders some short-term fixes. Sometimes research "stars" are hired to improve a department's rating. It would impoverish universities and aspiring female academics if "not likely to become pregnant in the next five years" became an unwritten part of any job specification.
The number of women in permanent posts has been a small fraction of the number of women undergraduates for many years. Recently, there has been a marked increase in the number of women appointed to permanent posts in physics and astronomy, hence the RAE cannot be the sole cause of gender imbalance. However, the RAE as constituted obviously does nothing to enhance the prospects for more women academics for Knight's reasons.
Gillian Gehring Department of physics and astronomy, University of Sheffield