Improving diversity in Higher Education Leadership
Friday, 23 May 2014
A new report from the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice challenges the Higher Education sector to improve gender balance in senior roles.
and Higher Education Leadership: Researching the Careers of Top Management
Programme Alumni, the report calls on universities to set
“aspirational targets and put action plans in place”.
research study, which was led by Professor Simonetta Manfredi proposes a code
of practice for recruitment firms to help address inequality.
Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes and chair of the research project’s
steering group, presented some of the report’s findings at Going Global, a
conference hosted by the British Council in Miami at the end of April. A research launch event and workshop was held on Wednesday (21 May 2014).
In the report’s
foreword, Professor Beer notes: “This research was conducted with women and men
who occupy some of the most senior roles in British higher education. It gives
us hard evidence to support the contention that it is more difficult for women
to be appointed as the chief executive in our universities and colleges.
“Whilst it is true that
some of the participants – both men and women – are clear that they do not wish
to be considered for the ‘top job’, of those who do, women are less likely to
fulfil their ambitions and indeed, their potential.
on the research, the report makes significant recommendations, some of which
are already under discussion in a variety of sector bodies, but which need to
be rapidly progressed.”
Brookes’ Centre for Diversity Policy Research
and Practice, which is focused on influencing policy and developing
research related to equality, celebrates its tenth year this month.
Centre Director Professor Simonetta Manfredi, commented: “Over
the past ten years, a tremendous amount of work has taken place through our research,
knowledge exchange and events.
“The wide-ranging work of the Centre has helped to improve
understanding and learning about diversity and played a key role in the development
of policy. Our latest report on improving the gender balance in Higher
Education senior roles makes a number of significant recommendations which we
hope to see taken up by the sector.
“The Centre brings together academic and management expertise
and we look forward to further influencing this crucial area in the years to
The Centre specialises in research and knowledge transfer in
the area of equality and diversity in the workplace.
Key research areas for the Centre include:
- Age diversity
- Gender equality with a focus on academic careers
- Equality and diversity issues within organisations
- Work-life balance
- Migration and equality challenges
- Religion and belief.
The Centre also organises and supports conferences, seminars
and workshops on a wide range of equality-related subjects. These have included
the application of the 2010 Equality Act to the workplace, challenges of
‘active ageing’ for the equality law and for the workplace and corporate social
In 2011, the Centre supported a major conference, led by the
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, Professor Janet Beer, on Women
and Leadership which has led to a series of legacy events. This has included
talks by Director of Liberty and Oxford Brookes Chancellor Shami Chakrabarti
and Vice-President of the EU Viviane Reding.
Centre’s most recent event took place earlier this month, entitled Business and leadership: Where are the
women? An expert panel looked at the issue of quotas, the roles of business
schools and how entrepreneurism could provide an alternative for women to
realise their full-potentials. Pictures from the events are available to view
on this page.
Details of the Centre’s projects and publications and
information on how you can get involved with their work is available online.