Less than a third of all Newcastle professors female

Despite employing more female staff than male, less than one-third of all professors at Newcastle University are female.

Grace Dean
21st May 2020

Less than one-third of all professors at Newcastle University are female despite the University employing more female staff than male, an investigation by the Courier has revealed.

Of 445 professors employed at Newcastle University in the 2018/19 academic year, 28.1% self-defined as female, according to data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). This is despite the fact that 53.6% of all Newcastle University staff, and 43.7% of all academic staff, are female.

Regarding non-academic staff, however, the number of female employees drastically outweighs the males. Last academic year the University employed a total of 2060 female non-academic staff, compared to 1155 male counterparts.

It must be noted that these statistics may not be entirely accurate due to the rounding system used by HESA, where figures are rounded to the nearest multiple of five to protect staff anonymity.

In its Gender Pay Gap Report published last year, the mean gender pay gap at Newcastle University was listed at 18.5%, which is slightly above the national average across at UK employers, estimated by the National Office of Statistics at 16.2% in 2018.

The data provided by HESA is, however, indicative of structural inequality across academia. Across the higher education industry, women only constitute 26.7% of all professors. Taking into account only larger universities, those with at least 100 professors, the University of the West of England has the higher proportion of female professors at 44%, compared to just 15% at Aston University, the lowest in the UK. Within the Russell Group, Liverpool has the highest proportion of female professors, at 31.6%, whereas Cambridge performs poorly at just 21.1% - which is all the more worrying because it is the fifth-largest employer of professors in the UK.

Taking these national statistics into account, Newcastle does fare positively, and it has a higher percent of female professors than its North East counterparts of Sunderland (27.6% female) and Durham (22.1%). Newcastle University has furthermore seen a marked decrease in the gender imbalance among professors over the past four years, with an increase in the total number of male professors of 15 since the 2014/15 academic year, compared to 35 additional female professors. Newcastle yesterday was awarded an Athena SWAN Silver by Advance HE which recognises "a significant record of activity and achievement by the institution in promoting gender equality and in addressing challenges across different discipline".

A Newcastle University spokesperson said: "Whilst there is much still to be done, we have made considerable progress in recent years addressing a wide range of equality and diversity matters across the University. This has been recognised in achieving the Athena SWAN Silver Award for excellent practice on gender equality in 2016.  Our recent successful renewal of the Athena SWAN Silver accreditation to 2024 is a significant achievement for the University. This renewal process involved a through and rigorous external validation review and is evidence that we have made excellent progress in embedding gender equality across the University. 

"We have increased the percentage of female Professors from 22.5% in 2013 to 31% in 2019 and have set a target of 35% by 2024. This level means we have the second highest percentage of Professors in the Russell Group with Liverpool only slightly higher at 31.6%.”

Read our comment piece on this here: why Newcastle needs to fix its gender imbalance

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AUTHOR: Grace Dean
Editor-in-Chief of the Courier 2019/20, News Editor 2018/19, writer since 2016 and German & Business graduate. I've written for all of our sections, but particularly enjoy writing breaking news and data-based investigative pieces. Best known in the office for making tea and blasting out James Blunt. Twitter: @graceldean

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