What does gender equality mean for women researchers in the 21st century?
Cambridge University summit highlights challenges in chasing the still-elusive goals of equal representation and equal pay
The theme of gender inequality seems to evoke a certain sense of resistance from both men and women, who argue against “radical feminism” and suggest that women nowadays are empowered to follow whatever career path they choose and succeed on their merits.
The battle, in other words, has been won.
Indeed, as a woman enjoying the successful pursuit of my career of choice, it felt strange to be in a room with some of the most outstanding female researchers in the world to discuss how difficult it still is for a woman to progress in her academic career compared to her male counterparts.
Yet here we were, the day after International Women’s Day in 2015, listening to the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, Prof. Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, declare that unequal representation and pay disparity were very much still an issue, not least in his own institution. He is, however, passionately committed that his tenure will bring positive change, vowing “not to rest until the issue of equal pay is tackled.”
This commitment was the catalyst for Delivering Equality: Women and Success — a summit that brought together top-level representatives from over 75 higher education institutions, nonprofits, industry, and government at the University of Cambridge’s Murray Edwards College to cultivate a conversation about how to make higher education more inclusive.
The Cambridge Equality Collaboration, known as C=C, was supported by the Elsevier Foundation in enabling this conversation: “What sets this program apart is that it’s transparent and very strategic in the way it looks to boost impact across its many initiatives,” explained Foundation Program Director Ylann Schemm. “By holding this seminar, they are also opening their doors to peers, sharing their due diligence and soul searching – a process that isn’t always comfortable but sets an important precedent.”
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- Alice Atkinson-Bonasio, “What does gender equality mean for women researchers in the 21st century?”, 7 April 2015