A freedom of information (FOI) request submitted by NUS Scotland to Scottish universities has revealed that they have a large under-representation of women on their governing bodies.
NUS Scotland is calling on universities to do more to increase the diversity of governing bodies, and to improve their gender balance. NUS Scotland is also calling on universities to meet their own commitments, or for legislation to be introduced to make this mandatory.
NUS Scotland asked how many co-opted members (those chosen by institutions) of governing bodies are women. Across the 11 institutions that responded, 31% of governing body members are women. The University of Edinburgh had two women (25%) among their co-opted board members, the University of Stirling had two (18%), and the University of Aberdeen had one (14%).
Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland women’s officer, said:“It’s incredibly worrying that, despite committing to strengthening the gender balance on their governing bodies, so many universities are still lagging behind. This is clear evidence that self-regulation does not seem to be enough to bring about gender equality on the boards that run our universities.
“Women make up over half of the student population and the governance of our institutions should be reflective of that. Universities are publicly funded bodies and must lead the way in ensuring that women are well represented among those making decisions at the highest level, and that their boards are genuinely representative of the populations they serve.
“Universities need to act, or they should be forced to. We can’t wait forever for women to rise to top positions of leadership despite the odds being against them. The Scottish Government should work with whoever they need to ensure that, in the future, women’s representation on boards is secured in law.”