Published on February 4, 2013 | by Harriet Mann and Jennifer Logan


UAL bucks trend for high number of women professors

White male professor speaks at a podium

White and male prospective professors are more likely to be given roles [Flickr:um.dentistry]

UAL’s high proportion of female professors contrasts with the latest statistics from University College Union about diversity at UK universities.

In August 2012, 27 professors at out of 46 at UAL were women; much higher than the 1 in 5 reported by UCU.

The report also found that just one in 14 professors are from a black and minority ethnic (BME) background, with white applicants for university professor roles being three times more likely to get the position.

UAL Student Union president Ben Westhead spoke to Arts London News about the report.

“A fair, balanced and diverse teaching staff should be one of the foundations of a healthy university,” he said.

“We are allowing thousands of staff to never realise their full potential.” UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt

“The university certainly has staff members who are dedicated to reaching equality for staff and students alike, however progress feel slow, not least for those who are suffering the consequences.”

Women make up 46.8 per cent of  non-professorial academic staff in UK universities, but staff from a BME background make up just 13 per cent of this group.

According to UCU, it will take almost 40 years for the proportion of female professors in employment at universities to reach the same level as the proportion of female staff and almost 16 years for BME staff.

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said: “We are allowing thousands of staff, who have built up years of knowledge and experience, to never realise their full potential.”

Calls for equality

The report also discovered that between 2003/4 and 2010/11, female professors earned six per cent less than their male counterparts and black professors earned 9.4 per cent less than their white colleagues.

UCU are calling for universities to introduce equal pay, a transparent professional grading structure and work with unions to find out why few women apply to be a professor.

“We want universities to take decisive action to stop this terrible waste of talent,” Hunt explained. “They need to examine the reasons why women and black and minority ethnic staff stop climbing the career ladder, and develop new, effective strategies to support them to reach the top.”

UCU were able to assess the 23 universities used in the report by submitting a Freedom of Information request. It is unknown whether University of the Arts London was part of the study.


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