International Women’s Day

Education Matters
SoEResearch
Published in
2 min readMar 7, 2024

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To celebrate International Women’s Day, this week we have heard colleagues in the School of Education discuss what the theme Inspire Inclusion means to them. These brief interviews have inspired me to produce some key points and recommendations for policy in higher education (HE):

1. Inclusive Practices for Neurodiversity and Gender Equality:

- Acknowledge and accept neurodiversity by recognizing both strengths and challenges.

- Avoid minimizing neurodiversity experiences by refraining from over-relating or using dismissive comments like “I’m a bit forgetful too.”

- Ensure that feedback mechanisms are in place and utilized to understand the needs of students and staff.

- Treat everyone with respect and engage actively to create a supportive environment.

2. Support for Work-Life Balance and Gender Equality:

- Review and streamline administrative processes to reduce additional burdens on early and mid-career women.

- Increase transparency about domestic duties and acknowledge the complexities of balancing caregiving responsibilities with academic careers.

- Implement flexible work arrangements and parental leave policies to support female academics.

3. Promoting Gender Diversity and Inclusion:

- Implement targeted hiring practices to address underrepresentation of women and promote diversity.

- Create a supportive culture that acknowledges and respects diverse experiences, including the intersectionality of gender with other identities.

- Encourage male colleagues and allies to actively support gender diversity by advocating for inclusive practices and actively engaging in inclusion efforts.

4. Celebrating Professional Services Achievements:

- Increase visibility and recognition of the achievements of professional services staff within the university community.

- Foster a respectful and inclusive environment where all staff feel valued and empowered to contribute.

5. Early Intervention and Support for Inclusion:

- Start promoting inclusion and diversity awareness early in the educational pipeline to create a more equitable representation in academia.

- Provide support and scaffolding to maintain an inclusive culture within universities, including mentorship programs and pathways to promotion.

6. Male Allies in Creating Inclusive Environments:

- Encourage male colleagues to actively engage in inclusion efforts and incorporate diversity considerations into all aspects of academic activity.

- Promote allyship across different intersectional identities to foster a more inclusive and supportive environment for all individuals.

In summary, to enhance inclusivity and support gender diversity in higher education, universities should prioritize implementing inclusive policies, fostering supportive environments, and actively engaging all members of the academic community in inclusion efforts. These recommendations aim to create a more equitable and welcoming environment for everyone.

Claudine Bowyer-Crane is Professor of Education at the School of Education

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Education Matters
SoEResearch

Research, Scholarship and Innovation in the School of Education at The University of Sheffield. To find our more about us, visit www.sheffield.ac.uk/education.