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Progress of women to senior positions glacial

Association of University Staff

Media Release

Attn Education Reporter 31 March 2008

Progress of women to senior academic positions glacial, says university staff union

Although the number of women holding senior academic positions in New Zealand universities has increased in the last year, progress toward equity is still glacial according to the Association of University Staff (AUS).

AUS National President, Associate Professor Maureen Montgomery, said that the New Zealand Census of Women’s Participation 2008, released by the Human Rights Commission today, revealed that women held just under 20 percent of senior academic position in New Zealand universities in 2007, up by 2.28 percent from the year before.

Despite the fact that women make up nearly half the academic workforce in universities, they remain clustered in the lower academic rankings. The proportion of women professors is only 15.1 percent and women associate professors 23.19 percent. Six universities improved their proportion of women in senior academic positions, while two, AUT and Massey, lost ground.

Associate Professor Montgomery said that, while there was no quick fix to improving the proportion of women employed in senior academic positions, New Zealand universities could look to Australia, where that country’s vice-chancellors had undertaken some solid initiatives towards improving the under representation of women in senior academia. “What is needed in this country is a sophisticated and multi-faceted approach to promoting equity,” she said. “We need to examine both structural and cultural barriers, and it would be a welcome sign if New Zealand vice-chancellors demonstrated the same level of collective commitment to reducing such barriers as their Australian counterparts were doing.”

The proportion of women filling ministerial appointments on university councils ranged from 75 percent (or three out of four positions) at AUT, to none out of four at the University of Waikato.

ENDS

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