Open Menu Close Menu

Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges


Learning session 2

Day 1: 3pm - 4.30pm

You can choose one of the following learning sessions:

A: Panel of papers: Inclusivity, action, intersectionality

Paper 1: Normalising flexible working. >

Simon Chandler-Wilde, University of Reading.

Themes: Flexible working; job share; part-time working

This paper will describe work to normalise part-time and flexible working at all levels, specifically initiatives in a school within the university that I led until 2016, that have gone on to have impact locally and more widely across the institution.

Although the university has offered for some time flexible working for all employees, school focus groups organised in 2011 suggested concern that flexible working, including part-time, was viewed negatively by colleagues and managers. Three key actions were taken:

  • A website was developed that: a) gives real examples of flexible and part-time working practices; and b) makes suggestions for line managers of flexible workers: http://bit.ly/2bBpHAP
  • Job-share opportunities for senior leadership roles were expanded, enabling two senior female staff, including one working part-time, to take on job-share head of department roles.
  • These initiatives and their impacts were publicised through talks at other universities, articles on the staff portal (e.g. http://bit.ly/2bBsWrQ), high-profile blogs (e.g. http://bit.ly/2bBddxT).

The impacts have been partly at school level, partly institutional level, and include improved focus group responses, increased uptake of flexible working, examples of recruitment of world class research stars attracted by flexible working arrangements, and new university commitments to job shares and flexible working.

Paper 2: Reframing diversity and inclusion in engineering. >

Dr Jan Peters and Emanuela Tilley, University College London (UCL).

Themes: Inclusion; engineering; policy and practice

Arguably being diversity confident is of greater importance for engineers than for other disciplines: engineers solve problems; mostly work in teams, often global; and have the potential to innovate through applying diversity-based critical thinking to create novel products and services. Creating diversity confident engineers could avoid errors of the past e.g. the lack of a pregnant crash test dummy and inform technology of the future, but a more embedded approach is needed.

What could engineering deans or heads of schools or departments do beyond unconscious bias training, supporting affinity groups or increasing outreach efforts to support minority groups?

This paper reframes inclusion across four pillars: where engineering is taught; how it is taught; what is taught; and the opportunities to practice professional socialisation and identity as an engineer. Building on a higher education STEM project lead by UCL, the talk will draw on the UCL Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP) where we have worked to embed inclusion within the programme design. Using a checklist, the IEP will be reviewed over the summer and illustrations of good practice will be presented.

The framework presents educators and leaders with an objective way to both appraise and embed inclusion within engineering.

Paper 3: Key results from the ASSET 2016 report: experiences of gender equality in STEMM academia and their intersections with ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and age. >

Dr Amanda Aldercotte, Equality Challenge Unit (ECU)

Themes: Gender equality; STEMM; intersectionality; ethnicity; age; sexual orientation; disability; Equality Challenge Unit

In 2003, the first Athena Survey of Science, Engineering and Technology (ASSET) revealed that talented women working in STEMM were less visible at key career stages and less likely to be encouraged to progress their careers. More than a decade later, the picture painted by the ASSET 2016 survey illustrates that little has changed: from recruitment to promotion, female STEMM academics were more likely to perceive, experience or be exposed to some form of disadvantage compared with their male colleagues. The small but statistically significant disadvantages experienced by female STEMM academics are presented according to three overarching themes: (i) teaching and administrative duties; (ii) feeling supported and valued; and (iii) caring responsibilities. ASSET 2016 also included a novel, intersectional approach to examining gender differences, and in many cases, the disadvantages for female STEMM academics manifested differently across other characteristics including ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and age. These patterns and their implications for policy development, recommendations for best practice and future research are discussed in turn.

B: Workshop:  Using intersectionality in practise: challenges and solutions.

Professor Peter Hopkins and Professor Judith Rankin, Newcastle University.

Themes: Intersectionality; race; BME; gender; transgender

The aim of this participatory workshop will be to think through the complexities of working with intersectionality in practise. In particular, this workshop will encourage participants to move beyond additive or ‘mix and stir’ approaches to intersectionality (e.g. looking at gender issues and adding in social class or race to the mixture).

The emphasis will be about focusing on the mutually constitutive nature of social identities in relation to intersectionality as well as other forms of identification and embodied practices that may shape how we approach intersectionality. The workshop will include a short presentation about the challenges of using intersectionality in practise. This will draw upon a review of the academic literature about intersectionality as well as ongoing research about the experiences of transgender and BME staff and students at Newcastle University and so will engage with a number of different strands of equality and diversity.

The remainder of the session will involve group discussions and participatory mapping exercises in order for participants to identify the challenges of using intersectionality in practise; participants will take away with them important insights about how they might enhance their use and practise of intersectionality in their home institutions.

C: Workshop: Transnational Education and LGBT rights.

Pete Mercer, Stonewall.

Themes: LGBT; TNE; global; international mobility

There are equality and diversity considerations across all protected characteristics when institutions forge international partnerships and send staff and students abroad. With a widespread lack of acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity diversity across the world both legally and culturally, for LGBT staff and students in particular the stakes are high.

This session will explore:

  • The global picture for LGBT rights, considering the risks and opportunities that TNE (transnational education) poses for LGBT staff and students
  • The responsibility of institutions in mitigating some of these risks, in particular those associated with international mobility
  • The values-based conversations that institutions can have to advance LGBT inclusion overseas when forging and monitoring international partnership

The session will involve a combination of presentation, smaller-group discussions and Q&A.

D: Workshop: A new concept for race equality training in institutions.

Clare Pavitt and Tinu Cornish CPsychol, Equality Challenge Unit (ECU)

Themes: Race; Race Equality Charter; Equality Challenge Unit; training

ECU’s race equality training is designed to increase the knowledge, confidence and capacity of staff tasked with the responsibility for addressing racial inequalities in their institutions. Earlier this year we ran the first two programmes of intensive training for diversity and inclusion officers, academic leads and other committed individuals which was very well-received (and in this workshop we will report on the evaluation of the programme).

One of the outcomes of that training was a demand for a shortened version suitable for Race Equality Charter (REC) self-assessment teams and other similar groups. We have been working with a number of institutions to develop and deliver this.

Using our experience of working closely with the University of Lincoln to ensure the training was firmly embedded in their context, we will explore how we have raised participants’ awareness of both racial advantage and disadvantage on both an experiential and knowledge level. Feedback tells us that for many this combination of the experiential and the informative has proven to be a transformational and paradigm changing experience.  In this workshop we will share how we have delivered this training within institutions and give participants a chance to ‘taste’ one of the exercises.