More must be done to break university old boys’ network

As pupils progress through the education system they see most primary teachers are women, there is more of a balance between women and men at secondary school, but all their university professors are men.
What does that tell women about their career prospects other than becoming a teacher in a primary school?
The university system is still dominated by an old boys network and we should think about how we promote, recruit and retain staff from all groups, including women.
I would not favour positive discrimination because that would disadvantage men and it would not be a step forward.
Within the academic community, the research process, the teaching environment and the selection and appointment of new posts is dominated by men.
It is hard for women to break into that environment because it favours a particular way of working that recognises individual research rather than collaborative work or teaching. Women academics tend to work differently from men at the start of their career, working collaboratively within teams and developing their teaching.
Women who favour part-time flexible working or take time out for a couple of years to have children find it harder to get back in because it is more difficult to keep up to date with fast-changing developments in their discipline, particularly in the sciences.
Universities need to recognise the different patterns of work that men and women prefer, provide more female mentors as well as better support for those returning to work.
Most crucially is a move towards recognising the worth of academic articles written in collaboration and published in a wider sphere than the traditional academic journals.
Ailsa McKay

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