Gender and university governance

Last week’s blog discussed the low proportion of women who sit on the governing bodies of Scotland’s universities. Over the weekend, I looked at governing boards in universities in London and Yorkshire. The good news is that things are better in these two regions. The bad news is that they aren’t all that much better.

Women governors form 30% of the total in London universities, and 34% in Yorkshire. At two universities – Leeds Met and Sheffield Hallam – there are more women governors than men. By comparison, women comprise 28% of board members in Scotland.

Six of the 26 London boards are chaired by women and three of the 11 Yorkshire boards. These women chairs include Estelle Morris at Goldsmiths and retired spook Dame Manningham-Buller at Imperial, while Jenny Abramski chairs the trustees of the University of London. Scotland has no women chairs.

I imagine that I don’t need to bang on about this. Clearly, governing bodies in London and Yorkshire are still largely male zones. They do show, though, that women are willing to join and chair governing boards, where they no doubt do as good a job as men. They also suggest that the position in Scotland is inexcusable.

This brings me neatly to a sort of postscript. If you remember, Universities Scotland claimed last week that ‘many universities have an equal gender balance amongst their co-opted members’. I emailed them last week to ask for clarification, without success. Perhaps they were referring to universities in Yorkshire.


Correction Universities Scotland contacted me this week to say that they had not received last week’s email. It turns out that I used an incorrect address. They have promised to get back to me once they have checked the information they relied on for their statement.