Gen­der gap re­mains at unis

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - ALAS­TAIR LYNN

Women walk a ‘‘tightrope’’ to a suc­cess­ful univer­sity ca­reer, but many are fall­ing short.

De­spite be­ing just as qual­i­fied as their male coun­ter­parts, in 2014 women made up just 28 per cent of pro­fes­sors and as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sors in univer­si­ties across New Zealand.

On-go­ing re­search con­ducted by the Univer­sity of Auck­land has shown that fig­ure has re­mained stag­nant in 2016.

School of Crit­i­cal Stud­ies in Ed­u­ca­tion as­so­ci­ate dean Kirsten Locke says at the cur­rent pace it would take about 25 years be­fore women are fairly rep­re­sented in our univer­si­ties’ top jobs.

‘‘There doesn’t seem to have been a change which is a lit­tle con­cern­ing on a na­tional level,’’ she says.

‘‘Univer­sity is sup­posed to be the cen­tre of con­scious­ness in so­ci­ety. We would ex­pect in this space to have fair and eq­ui­table rep­re­sen­ta­tion.’’

Locke’s re­search fo­cuses on ca­reer tra­jec­tory of women in univer­si­ties through­out New Zealand and Den­mark.

Both coun­tries have just un­der 50 per cent rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women in univer­si­ties.

‘‘But when we have around 20 per cent with pro­fes­sor­ships we can no longer say that there is a lag,’’ Locke says.

‘‘Women have to walk an in­creas­ingly fine line be­tween never be­ing per­ceived as too fem­i­nine or mas­cu­line. It’s a tightrope that women have to nav­i­gate.’’

As of 2016 women made up 23.2 per cent of pro­fes­sors and 37.8 per cent of as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sors at the Univer­sity of Auck­land.

At AUT the num­bers are sim­i­lar with women mak­ing up 28 per cent of pro­fes­sors and 35 per cent of as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sors.

AUT pro­fes­sor of pub­lic pol­icy Mar­i­lyn War­ing says New Zealand’s re­search fund­ing ‘‘is a merry-go-round of the old boys’ net­work’’.

War­ing says she’s tired of it al­ways be­ing a wo­man’s job to drive equal­ity.

‘‘It should be im­por­tant to every­one, re­gard­less of their gen­der or their ide­o­log­i­cal per- sua­sion,’’ she says.

Locke says a lack of in­for­ma­tion is con­ceal­ing the true ex­tent of the gen­der gap.

‘‘Part of the rea­son peo­ple aren’t that con­cerned about the dis­par­ity is be­cause it’s not out there in the pub­lic sphere.’’

‘‘Re­port­ing and data gath­er­ing in the univer­sity sec­tor needs to be much more re­li­able, reg­u­lar and grounded.’’


Univer­sity of Auck­land as­so­ci­ate dean Kirsten Locke says women walk a tightrope to se­nior roles.

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