Professor Simonetta Manfredi

Doctor in Jurisprudence

Director of Research & Innovation

Simonetta Manfredi


Simonetta Manfredi is Professor of Equality and Diversity Management, and Associate Dean for Research and Knowledge Exchange in the Business School at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. She is the founding director of the Oxford Brookes Centre for Diversity Policy and Practice, that she established in 2004 and is based in the Business School. Her research interests and expertise are primarily focused on gender and leadership, age discrimination and retirement policies, work-life balance, and applied diversity policy research in the Higher Education sector. She has published widely in these areas, led several projects funded by a range of organisations which include the European Commission, former Government Department for Tarde and Industry, the Higher Education Founding Council for England, and Advance-Higher Education. She is currently leading a two-years project funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to increase the representation of women researchers in STEM as founders and co-founders of university spinout companies. Simonetta is regularly invited to speak at academic and practitioner conferences and her work has been featured by the press and media. She is co-author of Managing Equality and Diversity, published by Oxford University Press, which received the Chartered Management Institute Management Book of the Year Award in 2013 (under the management and leadership category).  

Teaching and supervision


Currently one sponsored by Advanced Oxford

Research Students

Name Thesis title Completed
Hannah Isabelle Tornow Which contextual and individual factors shape gender inclusive innovation in the knowledge economy of Oxfordshire? Active


Professor Manfredi’s disciplinary background is in law and her contribution to the field of equality and diversity management studies has been to advance knowledge, by adopting empirical methods, of how equality law has been translated into policies and practices in the workplace to achieve better equality outcomes.  She has led several externally funded projects that have shaped policies and practices especially in relation to the Higher Education workforce.

Research impact

Professor Manfredi's highly impactful research has shaped policies and practices especially relating to the HE sector workforce. Examples include research on the application of the equality guidance to the Research Assessment Exercise (2008) which has led to a series of recommendation which have informed equality guidance for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 and 2021. Her extensive work to increase women's representation in leadership roles in the HE sector has underpinned the development by Advance-HE of a Diversity Principles Framework to be adopted by Higher Education Institutions and Executive Search Firms in the selection and recruitment process of senior leaders in HE. She has led two research impact cases: one submitted to REF 2014 and one selected for return to REF 2021. 

Past Research Projects

  • 2016 Leadership Foundation for Higher Education: The Role of Executive Search Firms in Increasing Diversity in Senior Appointments, PI (£20,000)
  • 2016 Racing Foundation: Women’s Representation and Diversity in the Horse Racing  PI (£10,000)
  • 2015 KPMG Changing Places: Women on Boards (investigating exchange of female talent between business and academia) PI (£10,000)
  • 2015 30% Club sponsorship to support an event with Lord Davies and Helena Morrisey held at Brookes 21 October 2015 (£5,000)
  • 2014 Review of Equality and Human Rights Law Relating to Religion or Belief Equality and Human Rights Commission? Co-I in collaboration with Professor Lucy Vickers and Professor Peter Edge from the Law School (£29,529) 
  • 2014 European Commission, Directorate – General Home Affairs: Combat measures against human trafficking in the tourism industry, PI. In collaboration with University of West London, Ratiu Foundation for Democracy in Romania, Rovaniemi Municipal Federation of Education in Finland (294.750 Euro)
  • 2014 Leadership Foundation for Higher Education: Equality Issues in Research Careers, PI (£10,000)
  • 2013 Leadership Foundation for Higher Education: Investigating the career trajectories of TMP alumni, PI (£30,000)
  • September 2010-December 2011 Higher Education Funding Council for England, Leadership and Governance Programme: Managing flexible retirement and extended working lives, in partnership with Equality Challenge Unit and in collaboration with UCEA, Foundation for Higher Education, UCEA, University Personnel Association, UNISON, UCU, PI (£64,000)
  • December 2008 – July 2009Equality Challenge Unit, Review of the impact of the process to promote equality and diversity in the Research Assessment Exercise 2008, PI (£46,000)
  • July 07-Dec08 Higher Education Funding Council for England, Leadership and Governance Programme: ‘Developing good practice in managing age diversity in the Higher Education sector’ in partnership with Equality Challenge Unit, Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, UCEA, University Personnel Association, UNISON, UCU, University of Warwick University, Aston University, Sheffield Hallam University, Staffordshire University, PI (£134,000)
  • 2007 “European Social Fund: ‘Action for the career development of academic women in the Higher Education sector’, PI (£13,000)
  • Oct 05- Dec 06 European Social Fund: ‘Action for the career development of academic women in the Higher Education sector’, Principal Investigator (£40,000)
  • 2005 Leadership Foundation for Higher Education: ‘Leadership styles for work-life balance’, PI (£15,000)
  • 2004 European Social Fund: ‘Improving Women’s Representation in Senior Positions in Higher Education’ Co-I (£40,000)
  • 2003 Department of Trade and Industry: ‘Developing work-life balance best practice through a partnership approach’, PI (£40,000)
  • 2000 European Medium Term Action Programme to Promote Equality of Opportunities between Men and Women 2000-2001, European Commission Co-investigator (£23,000)

Centres and institutes


Projects as Co-investigator

  • Gearing Roles (led by University of Deusto)(01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022), funded by: European Commission, funding amount received by Brookes: £299,520, funded by: European Commission


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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

Invitations to provide expert advice:

  • 2021 Advance HE/Welcome Trust consultation workshop on Non Executive Directors Development Programme
  • 2020 Video interview with Advance-HE to comment on their report on Diversity on University Governing Bodies
  • 2020 Oxford City Council to discuss a strategic case for place-led growth and renewal around Oxford.
  • 2018 Advance-HE roundtable discussions with Higher Education Institutions HR Directors and Executive Search Firm Consultants to develop a Diversity Principle Framework. This was aimed at promoting diversity in the selection and recruitment for external university board appointments (these discussions were based on recommendations made in the Increasing the Diversity of Senior Leaders in Higher Education: The role of Executive Search Firms. Research report pp 41 London: Leadership Foundation for Higher Education), London 17th and 23rd May.
  • 2017-2018 Invited to join the steering committee of the Women in Hospitality national project sponsored by PWC
  • 2015-2018 member of the Charted Association of Business Schools Diversity and Inclusion Group
  • 2016 Invited to contribute expert advice to a Roundtable Discussion of gender experts on– Progress and hurdles to women’s progression in the Executive ranks of FTSE350 companies, chaired by Sir Hampton as part of the Hampton-Alexander Review, KPMG, London
  • 2014 Metrics for All? Equality and Diversity Workshop, Higher Education Funding Council for England, 2 December, University of Sheffield

Membership of external committees

  • 2021( on-going) Member of the Inclusive Economy Steering Group, a partnership between OxLep, Oxford City Council and the Oxford Strategic Partnership
  • 2019-(ongoing)  OxLEP Innovation Group. 


Selected invitations to speak at conferences, panel discussions, seminars and symposia

  • March 2021 4th Professional Services Conference University of Brighton: Reflections on my research journey to advance gender equality: Challenges and solutions for the HE workforce
  • February 2021 Advance-HE Women in HE Conference: Building back better for gender equality in HE: Academic Entrepreneurship: Closing the gender gap in university spinouts- insights for building back better  
  • October 2020 European Academy of Law: Discrimination on the Grounds of Age: CJEU Case Law
  • September 2020 Innovation Team Cabinet Office: Successful Interventions and Best Practice in Diversity and Inclusion. What lessons can we learn from the Higher Education sector? 
  • March 2020 Women in Innovation: Informing the Future. Innovate UK, London 
  • September 2019 Women in Research, Inside Government, London
  • 2018 Eliminating the Gender Pay Gap in Higher Education Institutions. Women’s Higher Education Network. Invited to join panel discussion. 27th March, Institute of Education, London 
  • 2018 Equality and Human Rights Commission Roundtable Discussion on positive action provisions in the 2010 Equality Act, 14th March, London  
  • 2016 Oxford Martin School invited to take part in a panel discussion on Tackling Inequality: Strategies, Priorities and Effects. 1st December 


  • 2017-18  Equality training and focus groups to increase women’s representation in senior leadership roles for a biomedical company based in Oxfordshire
  • 2015-16 Social Sciences Division University of Oxford: undertake a gender audit across the whole division 
  • 2014 Department of Computer Science University of Oxford: run focus groups with staff employed in the department to contribute to a departmental gender audit 
  • 2013 University of Surrey: Equality Training for Research Leaders Relating to the Research Excellence Framework 2014 
  • 2012 Oxford University Press: Consultancy to Equality and Diversity Committee 
  • 2012 University of Kent: Consultancy Equality Review to Assist with the Development of the University Diversity Strategy