Outcry over University pay gap

A Freedom of Information request made in September by Cherwell has revealed that only eight per cent of the top-paid staff at Oxford University are women.

The request exposed that just 13 female members of staff receive a salary of more than £140,000 per annum, in comparison to 145 men.

A spokesperson for Oxford University commented to Cherwell, “Gender equality is one of Oxford’s key strategic priorities. The University was one of the first signatories of the Athena SWAN Charter, created in 2005 to address the under-representation of women in science. All 26 of Oxford’s science and medicine departments have been granted an Athena SWAN award in recognition of their efforts to promote and advance the careers of women in academia.

“The overall proportion of female academic and research staff at Oxford is not out of line with most UK universities, and compares favourably to British research-intensive universities and international universities. Currently 21 per cent of our Professors are female, compared to the UK average of 22 per cent.

“Detailed analysis within the main pay structure [has shown] no pay gaps greater than three per cent in base and total pay.

“However, we recognise the need to improve gender balance and to address the pay gap at the most senior levels of the University. For that reason, the University Council has set stretching targets for academic appointments and leadership positions, agreed by the University’s Council in December 2014.”

These targets include achieving at least 30 per cent representation of “women on senior decision-making bodies and in professional roles” by 2020.

The university also underlined its commitment to the United Nations’ HeforShe campaign, explaining that the University has “revised its process for the appointment of professors” which will significantly help in meeting their HeforShe commitment “as well as wider university gender equality targets.”

Stephanie Kelley, OUSU’s Women’s Campaign officer, agreed that more needs to be done to address the gender imbalance.

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She told Cherwell, “These statistics are disappointing and damning. While the University has resolved to appoint more women to top-paid positions with the aim of 30 per cent of women Associate Professors by 2020, these ‘gender equality targets’ as they’re described publicly wouldn’t be equality even if achieved.

“Oxford’s solution ignores the fact that gender discrimination in academia is embedded in the institution. It was only 95 years ago that women were admitted as full members of the University; these statistics are a sad reminder that a century wasn’t so long ago, and there is much progress to be made.

“Until the University begins the process of examining gender discrimination in all its manifestations and enacting comprehensive reform, Oxford’s scholarship and achievement will suffer, and all students and academics – not just women – will be worse off for it.”

Despite this, the average yearly proportion of undergraduates accepted to Oxford from 2012 to 2014 represents less of a gender gap, with 53 per cent male in comparison to 47 per cent female.