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3rd March 2014

Cambridge dons call for more female professors

Emphasis on “different types of success” would help promote gender equality in academia, say proposals

Over 50 academics from the University of Cambridge have called on the government to do more to ensure that female academics are able to rise up the promotion ladder.

The proposals will soon be published in The Times Higher Education Supplement. They claim that the selection process for higher positions in academia is unfairly biased towards men, because it relies on too narrow a set of criteria, such as research grants and publications.

They go on to argue that, “a broader, more inclusive approach to success and promotion, where other academic contributions, including teaching, administration and outreach work are valued, would make it easier for women to advance.”

Despite 45 per cent of academics being female, at the moment, just 22 per cent of professors in the UK are women. Yet more women go to university in the UK than men. In the most recent UCAS applications cycle, over 58 per cent of applicants were female.

Professor Athene Donald, a well know campaigner for gender equality at Cambridge University, said, “Women seem to value a broader spectrum of work-based competencies that do not flourish easily under the current system.

“There will always be hardcore metrics for academics, such as grants, or prizes won, and books and papers published, and they are important. But there are opportunities to reward and embed different types of success, such as teaching, outreach and departmental support.”

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