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University women still face barriers

Academic women are five times more likely than men to believe that having time away from the workforce is a barrier to promotion, and three times as likely to mention the lack of affordable childcare, according to research commissioned by the Association of University Staff. The research, undertaken by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, examined gender and promotion at Massey University as a case study of practices within New Zealand universities.

Amongst the main findings were that it showed that the women who participated in the survey were only half as likely as men to feel they had reached the academic level to which they had aspired. Not only did fewer women than men express overall satisfaction with the promotion processes, but they also reported less satisfaction with their opportunities for promotion. More women than men identified barriers to promotion such as high teaching loads and a lack of time for research.

Association of University Staff spokesperson, Associate Professor Maureen Montgomery, said the research showed that while women may have an equal chance for promotion, they were less likely to apply, particularly those in the lower academic grades. “This points to the need for universities to develop mechanisms to ensure that women, particularly those at lecturer and senior lecturer levels, have teaching loads which allow time for designated research and the development of publications records,” she said. “It also highlights the need for universities to look at the broader issues which inhibit career development, in particular the obstacles for women to make the transition from fixed-term appointments to continuing positions and the effect of time away from the workforce to tend to family responsibilities.”

Associate Professor Montgomery thanked Massey for allowing the research to be conducted at the University.

The study looked at the experiences of 619 academic staff at Massey University.

A summary of the research can be found at:

The full report can be found at:


For further information or comment please contact
Associate Professor Maureen Montgomery
Phone (03) 364 2488 (work)
(03) 358 0770 (home)
027 584 1677 (mobile)

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