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Times Higher Education judges 'won over' by Royal Holloway's dedication to progressing female professors

Posted on 25/11/2016
THE Awards Winners

Royal Holloway award winners join Richard E Grant on stage

Royal Holloway has won the Outstanding Contribution to Leadership Development award at the prestigious Times Higher Education Awards 2016 for its multi-faceted programme designed to close the gender gap in the number of male versus female professors. 

 In awarding Royal Holloway, the judges said they were “won over” by the university’s commitment to the academic progression of women.

“It is astonishing that in 2016 this is still an issue across academia, but the actions that have followed Royal Holloway’s ambition have reaped rewards with an increase in the percentage of female professors,” they said, adding that they were particularly impressed that the university was using multiple interventions to make a difference.

The awards, now in their twelfth year, are widely recognised as the Oscars of the higher education sector, shining a spotlight on the outstanding achievements of institutions, teams and individuals working in UK higher education. 

John Gill, editor of THE said: “The spirit of relentless improvement, of competing but also working together for the greater public good, will be vital for our universities and the country in the months and years ahead. Universities face major challenges as a result of Brexit, but as can be seen from the extraordinary group of winners this year, the THE Awards serve as a timely reminder of just how strong they are as a group: “world class” is a cliché, but an apt one in this case”.

Pioneering spirit dedicated to combatting gender stereotypes

Professor Katie Normington, Vice Principal (Staffing) who helped pioneer the programme said, “Royal Holloway was among the first colleges in the UK to give women access to higher education. This pioneering spirit continues today in our aim to combat gender stereotypes and the under-representation of women in certain fields and careers.”

“Our community exists to support and inspire students and staff to achieve their ambitions. To be recognised for this is a great achievement, however the real reward is seeing women flourish regardless of their gender or background.”

An award winning programme - Enabling Women Academics Through the Promotion Process

In 2012, Royal Holloway, University of London had a roughly even split between male and female lecturers. But at the professorial level, in line with many other universities, men outnumbered women by four to one.

This prompted the university, which was one of the first in the UK to offer women higher education, to take action. In 2014 it launched an initiative called “Enabling Women Academics Through the Promotion Process”, which aimed to increase the proportion of female professors from 24.1 per cent to 35 per cent over five years.

Based on a scheme at the University of Tromsø in Norway, female academics were offered coaching, CV support, mock external review and workshops on the promotion process. Women were welcome to attend with babies, or over Skype, to fit around other commitments.

Of the 26 women who have participated in the first two cohorts of the scheme, 16 have since been promoted, with three becoming heads of departments and seven becoming chairs in their subject areas. After the latest promotion round, the proportion of female professors has risen to 26 per cent. A third cohort is now under way.

Winners of the Times Higher Education Awards were chosen by a panel of judges including Alison Johns, chief executive of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, Joanna Newman, vice-principal (international), King’s College London, and Malia Bouattia, president of the National Union of Students.

To find out more about the support available to all students studying at Royal Holloway visit careers and employability 


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