Cambridge Vice Chancellor Alison Richard on Equality in Academia

Glassceiling Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of hearing the University of Cambridge’s Vice Chancellor, Alison Richard, speak about the history and future of women in the University at Lucy Cavendish College. Gender equality came across as a big issue for her, perhaps not surprisingly, as the first female Vice Chancellor of the University in it’s 800 year history. And while in the UK, women make up a small majority of undergraduates, there is still great disparity in the numbers of women in higher ranking senior academic positions. The Vice Chancellor explained that universities could not wait around for the number of undergraduates to simply "trickle up" as that process is both too slow and unlikely due to the "leaky faucet" that has too many fields loosing women at almost every career juncture. In her speech, she called work-life balance the "post-feminist challenge" and explained how she sees it adversely affect both male and female academics who work in institutions that still operate as if a caretaker is at home full-time – an outdated assumption that is not helpful either to professional couples nor the organisations they serve. 

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