Although there have been marginal improvements in British Universities over the last ten years or so, progress is extremely slow, and there is still a very long way to go. The proportion of academics who are women has been steadily increasing overall, but the number in the highest positions is still very low, and the gender pay gap across the sector remains stubbornly high.
In the UK, there are considerable differences in all respects, including staff structure, between the “pre-92” and “post- 92” universities. 1992 was the year when the polytechnics were redesignated as universities. Roughly speaking, the pre-92 universities are more elite and traditional. One of the biggest divides in all universities is between those on permanent-full-time contracts, and those on part-time and/or fixed-term contracts. There is clearly a gender divide here and in the three types of employment function for UK academics – teaching-only, research-only, and teaching-and-research. The vast majority of teaching-only contracts are part-time. The majority of researchers are on fixed-term contracts. The contract regarded as the norm for full-time academics is teaching-and- research.
The first hurdle faced by many women in academia is getting on to a full-time permanent contract. The traditional male trajectory is to work full-time, strive to get as much published as possible, and be prepared to move anywhere in the country, or indeed even the world, to get promotion.