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Gender Equality in Higher Education

Development designed to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing gender equality in higher education

Gender Equality in Higher Education events portfolio for 2022-23

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The Advance HE annual staff and student statistical report shows a larger proportion of women than men worked in professional and support roles, worked part-time, on fixed-term contracts, and in lower salary bands. Gender pay gaps remain highest among academic staff, though were still evident among professional and support staff. 

Our portfolio supports the encouraging and recognising commitment to advancing gender equality in higher education.  

Our services are built on a legacy of expertise in gender equality, drawing from our leadership of the Athena Swan Charter, championing women’s leadership development, including Aurora, equal pay and supporting the extension of women represented on university boards – all to encourage and support change across the sector. 



Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Conference 15-16 March 2023

The Shoulders of Giants: Listening, Learning and Improving our Practice
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Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme

The under-representation of women in senior posts in institutions remains a significant concern, despite the improving outlook at executive and board levels in recent years. The Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme is a unique programme which combines technical knowledge of finance and governance that senior leaders require with crucial leadership skills linked to navigating organisational politics and creating powerful narrative for influence and strategic impact. 

It is designed specifically for women in senior positions in HE to help them take the next step up or extend their role, profile and impact. It aims to create more gender parity in senior leadership throughout higher education. 

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By the end of 2023 10,000+ women will have participated in Aurora since its launch in 2013 with our research showing that Aurorans are twice as likely to get promoted.

Aurora is a leadership ignition journey, inspiring women to aspire and achieve leadership positions within higher education (HE). Aurora, via an unique partnership of leadership experts and HE institutions, takes positive action to address the under-representation of women in leadership positions in the sector. Delivered virtually, Aurora consists of an introductory webinar, four core development days, two action learning sets and a series of Coffee and Connect online networking sessions, Watch Parties and special events.

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New to HE

Aurora case studies and stories

In partnership with the Brunel University, Robert Gordon University, University College Dublin, and the University of Edinburgh, we have created four institutional case studies to share learning and insight from participating in Aurora; Aurora institutional case studies.

Athena Swan

Encouraging and recognising commitment to advancing gender equality.

The Athena Swan Charter is a framework which is used around the world to support and transform gender equality within higher education and research. Established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment, the charter is
now used globally to advance gender equality (not just women’s equality) within all academic subject areas. The framework has recently been transformed to enhance the systems and processes that underpin the UK Charter to ensure it is fit for the future of the UK HE sector.

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News, views and resources

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