A bias against bias testing

Published today in Research Professional, Pete Jones discusses how the University employees most concerned with diversity tend to be least willing to be tested for unconscious bias.

”My experience of testing academics and support staff in universities suggests that the levels of bias on the basis of gender, ethnicity and disability are similar to those in other workplaces……..

Biases are not simply a property of individuals; we see higher levels of bias in some faculties and departments than others, for instance. Looking across employers, we also see variations in the type and direction—for example, for or against women with children—and differences in the strength of biases.

But, while universities may be no more or less biased than other workplaces, we have found those who work there are among the least willing to accept they have biases. In our experience, two groups in particular show a lot of variation in take-up rates when they are invited for testing. The group with the most variation consists of human resources managers, diversity professionals and staff network leaders. We have also seen much higher take-up rates among academics working in science subjects such as physics, engineering, and animal and plant sciences than from those working in the arts, humanities and social sciences. 

This was a conundrum at first. Why would the champions of diversity and inclusion be reticent about testing while they are encouraging others to take part? And why would academics with a reputation for being liberal and socially attuned show a similar reluctance to be tested?………”

Read the full article here to learn more – bias testing


Recipients of prestigious Athena SWAN award announced

The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) have recently announced the institutions and departments which have received an Athena SWAN award (this recognises commitment to tackling gender inequality in higher education).

”Ninety-seven awards were given out in total, comprising ten awards at institutional level and 87 at departmental level. University College London and the University of Edinburgh were successful in attaining the Athena SWAN Silver award, bringing the total number of institutions with a Silver award to seven.

Seven institutions also received a Bronze award. They were: Bournemouth University, The British Antarctic Survey, Edge Hill University, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, The University of Huddersfield, University of Hull, and University of Northumbria at Newcastle. The University of York also retained its Bronze award.

Elsewhere, 61 university departments received or retained Bronze awards, 24 departments received or retained their Silver awards, and the Department of Chemistry at the University of York successfully renewed its Gold award.

In total, 139 Athena SWAN applications were submitted, meaning the 97 awards given out yielded a 70% success rate, which is consistent with previous award rounds (Nov 13 -71%, April 14 – 69%, Nov 14 – 73%).”


‘Striking’ inequalities in higher education fuel gender pay gap

A new report highlighted yesterday by Jack Grove in the Times Higher indicates that ‘the UK’s female academics are paid £6,146 less on average than men, with lack of women in leadership and management roles a factor.’

‘Twice as many male academics as female scholars earn more than £50,000 a year, new figures on academia’s gender pay gap show.  Some 37,425 male academics are paid at least £50,000, compared with just 17,415 female academics – a ratio of more than two to one, according a new analysis of 2013-14 data by the Equality Challenge Unit.  It means that despite making up 55.4 per cent of the workforce, 68.2 per cent of higher earners in academia are men, says the ECU’s Equality in Higher Education: Statistical Report 2015, due to be published on 9 November……’

Don’t set limits on yourself. What’s the worst that can happen? – Professor Jenny Higham, incoming principal of St. George’s, University of London

Posted on the Womanthology blog on 28th October Professor Jenny Higham (Principal of St. George’s, University of London, a specialist healthcare University) discusses equality, career choices and going for it!  Although written with a medical perspective there is a lot of useful advice:

”It’s really important to champion the next generation of women in medicine. I have to say that I’m a real believer in equality for everybody, rather than it’s only about women, although I have to say that in some ways it’s a bit depressing that you might have thought it [gender equality] would have all been sorted by now, but it’s hasn’t been.

We’ve heard it all before, but women make assumptions that they can’t do it, or that they won’t be good enough, and they often have a reticence about their own ability, or an anxiety that it will take too much of what else they want to achieve in their life. I think that encouraging women to play to their strengths, encouraging them to apply for roles, to try things out and developing others is a really important thing……….”

What do you think?  Are you encouraging someone to believe that they are good enough?  Do you need encouragement to apply/try something?

Don’t set limits on yourself. What’s the worst that can happen?

Don’t set limits on yourself. What’s the worst that can happen?

Gender pay gap inquiry launched

The Women and Equalities Committee have launched an inquiry to inform Government strategy on reducing the gender pay gap, focusing on women aged over 40. The Chair and Committee are speaking to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour today (4th November) at 10am.

Background to this inquiry:

‘The gap between all male and female employees currently stands at 19.1% (2014), measured by median gross hourly pay, excluding overtime. For all full time employees the gender pay gap is 9.4%, but there are wide variations by age and sector.

Younger women, from 18-39, in full-time work experience a very low or even reversed gender pay gap. ONS data shows the gap for hourly earnings growing from the age of 40 onwards. It is greatest for women in their 50s. This is partly due to the fact that half of women over 50 work part-time, and hourly wages for part-time workers are significantly lower than those for full-time employees.

The gender pay gap is not confined to those working part-time though. Women over 50 working full-time earn 82% of what men of the same age working full-time earn. Some of this discrepancy is down to occupational segregation. At present, two-thirds of women aged over 50 are employed in just three sectors: education, health and retail.’


Assertiveness in the workplace

Upcoming talk: Assertiveness in the workplace

Jo Fairley – founder of Green & Black’s Chocolate, author of The Beauty Bible series, journalist. 12 November, 6:00 – 7:00pm Palmer 109

With her background as a female entrepreneur and creator of Green & Black’s, Jo Fairley has certainly had to be assertive. Green & Black’s was started with  £20,000 of her savings, and has grown into a brand worth £100 million worldwide in less than 20 years.  A healthy level of assertiveness at the right moments can strengthen your workplace relationships and reduce your long-term stress. Being assertive at work is a good way to get noticed. This session will give you useful assertiveness tips peppered with anecdotes from Jo’s fascinating career. You can also find out more about Jo Fairley and read her articles.

**Note – Jo Fairley will be bringing 120 mini chocolate bars with her for the first 120 people!**

Student booking information

Students and Reading graduates can book via My Jobs Online . Early booking is recommended.

Staff booking information

There will be a limited number of spaces available for staff.  Please email jacqueline.payne@reading.ac.uk to request a staff place.

Jo Fairley - founder of Green & Black's chocolate, author of The Beauty Bible Series, and Journalist

Jo Fairley – founder of Green & Black’s chocolate, author of The Beauty Bible Series, and Journalist