30th May 2012 – This Gender Pay gap needs to go
From ‘Jenna’ – a member of UCU at Glasgow Caledonian
The Equality Challenge Unit reports that in 2011 the mean gender pay gap in UK HE was 20%…….
A colleague recently brought this article to my attention: The Fair Pay on Campus campaign aims to address the huge pay inequalities that exist between those at the top of the UKs HEIs and…well, the rest of us.
It’s a timely and necessary campaign, part of the backlash against the injustices of the austerity agenda. It also attacks the mainstreaming of the ‘bonus culture’ of the finance sector that underpinned the recent economic meltdown, precipitated economic inequalities more generally and paved the way for the Con-Dem’s assault on the poor and disabled.
I’m all for that. Any campaign that draws attention to the unequal distribution of economic resources, and how existing paradigms that prioritise economic growth at all costs reinforce inequality, is laudable and deserves to be successful. However, the campaign needs to draw more attention to the gendered dimensions of pay inequalities.
The VCs that are reaping the benefits of inflated pay in UK HEIs are, for the most part, white men. This article in the Herald indicates that at the start of this year only 5 Principals in the 19 Scottish Universities were female – including our own of course. And the glass ceiling is lower than Principal/VC level: only 21% of Scottish university professors are women.
Interestingly, Glasgow Caledonian has the highest proportion of female professors at 31% (most likely reflecting the nature of the subjects that we excel at, such as Allied Health, if you ask me). The vertical segregation that means women become less and less visible the higher you look in the academic hierarchy underpins the sectors serious gender pay gap. The Equality Challenge Unit reports that in 2011 the mean gender pay gap in UK HE was 20%. The proportion of men earning over £50,000 PA was double that of women: 32% against 16 % for academic staff. There are also gaps between the average pay of white and non-white university staff and between those staff that are known to be disabled and those that are not. These pay gap are nowhere near as severe as the divide between male and female pay.
Fair pay on campus is an important goal and one which I stand behind wholeheartedly but it can’t be achieved without recognising the gendered dimensions of pay inequality.
[Union Admin adds: This recent report in the Guardian: Why women leave academia and why universities should be worried also shows the worrying trend that only 12% of third year female PhD students want a career in Academia.]
1st February 2012 – The Staff Survey – Where’s the gender analysis?
From ‘Jenna’ – a member of UCU at Glasgow Caledonian
- Just to underline my point in my last post, about the deteriorating levels of work life balance, or paid/unpaid work balance (depending on your perspective), the results of the recent staff survey indicate that GCU is no exception. Only 45% of Academic, Research and Enterprise (ARE) staff that responded agreed that the University provides good support to help them balance work and personal commitments. Only 48% in the same category felt they had a good work life balance. The overall staff average was 66% across staff ‘types’; that’s not exactly impressive and very far from healthy.
Glasgow School for Business and Society scores worst of all the Academic Schools where only 40% of respondents agreed that the University supported them to balance work and personal commitments and 43% reporting good work life balance overall. Indeed 61% of GSBS staff report that they find their current workload too much and are struggling to cope, compared to an average of 50% across the three schools. 52% of GSBS respondents reported feeling stressed at work “always” or “frequently”. I’m sensing a link between these three findings. The most sobering of all, 13% in GSBS, 6% in School of Engineering & Built Environment and 4% in School of Health and Life Sciences reported being harassed and bullied at work.
Unfortunately the survey data is not gender disaggregated so we have no idea if there is any difference in work life balance satisfaction, levels of stress and work overload or bullying between male and female respondents. This is remiss if you ask me.
2oth November 2011 – on Work, Life Balance
What has happened to the university sector when it takes industrial action to put academics back in control of their lives?
This article from the Guardian will strike a chord with many of us. The competing demands of teaching, administrative duties and research adds up to a job that spills over into evenings, weekends, holidays and, it seems, even the daily commute. This results in almost unmanageable day-to-day lives and a whole lot of emotional stress which can’t be good for productivity, never mind the negative impact it has on individual wellbeing.
Diminishing work-life balance and associated increase in stress applies to both male and female academics. However, women are more likely than men to have primary caring responsibilities for dependent children and adults and are more likely to spend more time on unpaid work at home. This makes it a gendered issue. A lack of work-life balance, or put another way, appropriate balance between paid work and unpaid work is a key reason we see less women in senior academic posts and in senior management in Higher Education. Although you don’t need to be in a promoted post to feel the pressure, as the Guardian article highlights. While the sector manages to squeeze as much goodwill and out-of-hours work out of members as it can, it’s inevitable that academic staff with responsibilities outside of the academy will find no other option but to leave HE and a disproportionate number of them will be women. The sector will therefore lose out on their skills, expertise and experience and HE’s already poor record on gender equality in employment will get worse.
After year on year of staffing cuts, increasing student admissions, pressure to perform within the parameters of research assessment frameworks and culture of management by email – it turns out there are still only 24 hours in a day. Consequently, it feels as though many members could be at breaking point.
It seems that a positive consequence of work-to-rule action is that members can take stock of the work they do, where and when they do it and the effect that their work has on their lives overall. If we could do less work and more life, we might be less stressed, and actually more productive, as individuals. And as a sector, we might achieve more gender equality.