UCL News


Mind the Gap: Gender equality event at UCL, 18th March 2008

17 March 2008

Why do so few women achieve senior academic roles in medicine despite being entering the profession in greater numbers? Why is there a persistent gender imbalance in subjects such as physics? How have successful women have overcome the barriers to achieving a leading academic career? These are just some of the issues to be tackled at Mind the Gap, a day of discussion, ideas and action around gender equality in higher education, taking place at UCL on Tuesday 18 March.

Speakers at the event will include Shami Chakrabarti Director of Liberty, Professor Stephen Whittle OBE, founder of Press for Change, and Dame Hazel Genn QC, Professor of Socio Legal Studies and Honorary Fellow UCL Laws.

One in five medical schools do not have a female professor, and only 1.1% of scientists and engineers in the UK labour force are women. Research into the under-representation of women at senior levels in higher education and in Science Engineering and Technology has highlighted a number of issues, says Fiona McLean, UCL Equal Opportunities Coordinator. "These include conscious and unconscious gender bias, the need to identify barriers actual and perceived, balancing a career, often with long hours and international travel with home and family life, differences in interests, outlook and priorities, and how we can best tackle the isolation of women within particular research groups and disciplines.

"There is a great deal that universities can be doing to promote the benefits of diversity. For instance we need actively to encourage applications from more women for senior positions, promote how the academic environment is consistent with having a family, and seek to ensure better transparency and fairness in workload allocation. The event will both highlight some of the current barriers women face, and set out best practice from around the sector to address these issues. As Christabel Pankhurst said, "Ability is sexless".

Notes for Editors

For more information please contact Dominique Fourniol in the UCL Media Relations Office on 0207 679 9728 or visit http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/events/gender_equality_event.php