Gender Equality: We Still Don’t Practise What We Preach

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Business schools have long played a substantial role in shaping how the wider world tackles issues such as equality, diversity, inclusion and meritocracy. It isn’t unduly immodest to suggest many organisations look to us for at least some measure of guidance. We have a duty to research these problems, report our findings and help make a positive difference.

Prof. Jo Duberley and prof. Laurie Cohen provide some qualitative context to the raft of statistical evidence that shows women’s representation in the upper echelons of higher education, while exhibiting signs of piecemeal improvement here and there, remains conspicuously poor. The two scholars found evidence of various biases in the course of a groundbreaking new study, which was conducted at a number of research-intensive universities in the UK and Europe. The most common assumptions and prejudices they uncovered included:

  • Women aren’t viewed as men’s intellectual equals
  • Women are railroaded into pastoral roles
  • Women are teachers rather than researchers
  • Women’s number-one priority is – or should be – family
  • Women have to achieve “respectable femininity”
This being so, how can business schools sincerely expect other organisations to look to them for guidance? Should they not put their own houses in order before they can hope to be taken seriously when they try to tell everyone else how to run theirs?

Prof. Duberley, a Professor of Organisation Studies at Birmingham Business School, and prof. Cohen, a Professor of Work and Organisation at Nottingham University Business School, stress that time alone will not eradicate these failings. Moreover, they warn that business schools’ reputations, credibility and broader value to stakeholders could be significantly diminished unless such shortcomings are finally and effectively addressed.

Their full blog entry is available for download here. Anyone requiring further information or wishing to discuss the findings and their implications in more detail is invited to contact the authors at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You might be also interest in the recent report, suppoerted by EFMD & EQUAL, on the gender gap in European business school faculties and what leaders need to do to close it.