Women attack ILT red tape and sexism

March 24, 2000

Female members of the Association of University Teachers have called for a union ballot to consider rejecting the Institute for Learning and Teaching.

The annual meeting of the AUT women's committee last week censured the union executive for not being firmer on the ILT, which they say puts too much financial and time pressure on individuals.

They want a consultative ballot to ask AUT members first whether they agree with the general purpose of the ILT and then whether they support the methods of accreditation it outlines. A motion to this effect will be put for debate at AUT council in May.

The women say the AUT executive should have negotiated a package in which higher education institutions provide training and reduced teaching time for new lecturers to help them gain accreditation.

Gillian Howie, a philosophy lecturer at Liverpool University and member of the women's committee with responsibility for the ILT and research assessment exercise, said: "We all have PhDs and qualifications anyway. We object to the fact that it is an individual's responsibility to give their time to this."

She said that the ILT could increase the gap between research and teaching. This could have a damaging knock-on effect for women, who already tend to be concentrated in teaching because of problems combining the research assessment exercise with family life.

Finally, the committee argued that "institutional sexism" made the format for ILT membership, which includes confidential peer review, "questionable".

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