The universities scoring highest for gender equality

The world’s most gender equal universities, according to THE data, cite data-informed recruitment methods as a key factor in their success

April 24, 2019
gender equality
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A diverse range of universities spanning Europe and Oceania are leading the way when it comes to gender equality, according to the latest Times Higher Education data.

Western Sydney University tops the THE University Impact Ranking for gender equality, while the rest of the top five is made up of institutions in Europe, including Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands (second), the University of Gothenburg in Sweden (third), the University of Bologna in Italy (joint fourth) and the University of Worcester in the UK (joint fourth).

The ranking measures universities’ research on the study of gender, their policies on gender equality and their commitment to recruiting and promoting women.

Mattias Goksör, pro vice-chancellor at Gothenburg, said that one of the main factors for the institution’s success in this area was that it worked in accordance with Sweden’s national “gender mainstreaming” strategy by integrating “a gender perspective in everything we do”, from teaching and research to outreach and administration.

“This is done from a bottom-up perspective, where each faculty and department works within the framework of its own challenges. They are not governed from a top-down perspective, but they can get support from us,” he said. “I think that a top-down approach would result in a gender equality project disconnected from what we actually do at the University of Gothenburg.”

VU Amsterdam is also working towards becoming an “inclusive organisation” in which “diversity plays a central role at all levels of the organisation”, according to Wessel Agterhof, a university spokesman.

The institution’s “Wo/Men” network, for example, aims to “improve the position of women in the workplace” by promoting diversity and equal opportunities and tackling gender-specific stereotypes and roles, he said.

When looking at individual metrics, the American University in Washington DC comes top on the measure on the proportion of senior academics who are women (73.9 per cent).

Mary L. Clark, dean of academic affairs and senior vice-provost at the institution, which is ranked 30th overall in the gender equality ranking, said the university’s hiring practices incorporated “data-informed, active recruitment methods, which elicit notably diverse candidate pools, where approximately one-half of new full-time faculty hires in recent years have been women”. The attrition of female faculty is also low, she added.

Elsewhere in the US, Wheaton College in Massachusetts, which is ranked 20th overall for gender equality and was a women’s college until 1988, is one of the leading institutions when it comes to the proportion of research papers that are authored by women (68.2 per cent).

President Dennis Hanno said the institution “consciously held on to its commitment to gender equality as it became co-educational”.

“The commitment begins with Wheaton’s faculty, which has been composed equally of women and men for more than four decades,” he said, adding that this equality “plays a powerful role in creating an inclusive culture on campus”.

For example, in 1980, the faculty developed the Gender Balanced Curriculum project, which “incorporated scholarship by and about women among all the disciplines of the liberal arts – from the humanities to the natural sciences”, he said.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

Gender equality rank

Position in World University Rankings 2019

Institution

Country

Gender equality score

1

351-400

Western Sydney University

Australia

80.9

2

166

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Netherlands

79.1

3

201-250

University of Gothenburg

Sweden

78.3

=4

180

University of Bologna

Italy

77.7

=4

NR

University of Worcester

UK

77.7

=6

201-250

University of Auckland

New Zealand

77.6

=6

501-600

Edith Cowan University

Australia

77.6

8

135

Pompeu Fabra University

Spain

77.1

9

301-350

Auckland University of Technology

New Zealand

77.0

10

38

King’s College London

UK

75.9

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