Gender equality is one of the key challenges facing society today. Across the world it manifests in many forms, including pay, employment opportunities and access to education.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) look to tackle some of today’s biggest global issues and SDG 5 aims to address the issue of gender equality.
As part of the Impact Rankings, Times Higher Education has produced a ranking focusing on how universities are contributing to gender equality. Some of the measures looked at as part of the ranking are research on gender, policies on gender equality, commitment to recruiting and promoting women, the proportion of first-generation female students and student access measures. You can read more about the methodology here.
Top five universities for gender equality
Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University is the largest women’s university in the world and was founded in 2010.
It has provided education for women in Saudi Arabia when, historically, they were unable to access the same educational facilities as men. The school aims to give opportunities to female students in traditionally male-dominated areas such as computer science, management and medicine.
In 2018 the university became the first in Saudi Arabia to provide a driving school for women. This was introduced after King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud granted women the right to drive in the Kingdom.
La Trobe University has a number of initiatives to drive gender equality, including the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, SAGE Pilot (an accreditation and improvement programme for higher education research organisations focusing on gender equality) and Square the Ledger, which aims to celebrate the lives of women who have studied, taught and worked at the university.
La Trobe vice-chancellor John Dewar has stated that he is “deeply committed to achieving gender equality in all areas of university life”, including equal representation of women in senior leadership roles and across all schools and departments.
Western Sydney University was named an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality by the federal government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency. The institution has held this title for the past 15 years.
Western is also dedicated to combating sexual violence on campus through the development of a respectful relationships education programme to be implemented across the Australian university sector.
A Gender Equality Strategy and Action Plan has been implemented to focus on the areas where gender equality can be improved. One of the key aims for the plan is to support the university’s efforts in recruiting, retaining and helping female staff advance. Other measures that have been introduced in response to the plan are improved breastfeeding facilities on campus, additional leave for staff experiencing domestic violence, and the development of a Gender Equality Policy.
Charles Darwin University created a development plan in 2019 to outline how it would work towards the SDGs by 2025. This included measures ensuring that students and staff are engaged in developing sustainable practices on campus.
The university has also created a plan to ensure gender equity in science policy with measures such as ensuring that early and mid-career women are given opportunities to progress in their careers, and undertaking an annual gender pay analysis.
Glasgow Caledonian University is committed to gender equality among staff and students. This includes implementing policies that support well-being, such as the Student Pregnancy and Maternity Policy and the Trans Student Policy, creating a gender-based violence working group and taking part in SmartSTEMs to encourage women into STEM subjects.
The university was also awarded a bronze award under the Athena Swan scheme, which was established to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in STEM in higher education and research.
Top universities for gender equality 2021: Top 100