Gender inequality in higher education has been persistent despite deliberate measures implemented to reduce it. It is a challenging issue across all workplace settings (Jayachandran, 2015; Thébaud, 2015). However, in higher education, it has been identified as a particularly troubling issue (Clauset, Arbesman, &Larremore, 2015; Duong, Wu, & Hoang, 2017). A prime example of gender inequality in higher education is the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles.
The goal of this study is to investigate the perspectives of current educational leaders, including administrators and faculty members, about gender inequality. The dissertation will seek to identify examples, challenges, and ultimately best practices to tackle this issue in higher education settings. The leaders’ accounts of the impact of institutional policies related to gender equality will also be considered. Educational leaders are likely to have insights about gender equality, based on their experiences and familiarity with the efforts aimed at reducing gender inequality in their institutions. To investigate these topics, a qualitative approach will be used: the study will involve email interviews with educational leaders, with an aim to gather relevant information that can be analyzed to uncover a better understanding of gender equality. The perspectives of both men and women will be introduced.
Statement of the Problem
Historically, the differences in the status of men and women have resulted from economic, social, and cultural causes. The segregation of labor, according to which women are supposed to maintain the household while men are expected to work outside of it, has been a significant factor for many centuries. To this day, it is more common for women to be housewives than it is for men to be househusbands (Hurst, 2015; Winslow & Davis, 2016). Given that household chores are not typically paid labor, this arrangement results in an imbalance of power and resources. This arrangement has been a part of what are commonly called “gender roles,” which are gender-related expectations that in many societies, including the US, involved viewing men as the dominant gender (Hurst, 2015). As a result of such gendered stereotypes, women can be perceived as less competitive, less competent, and unfit for leadership to this day (Beaumont, 2016; Hurst, 2015). Thus, a complex intersection of socioeconomic and cultural factors has resulted in gender inequality in the US.
The mentioned causes are also pertinent to the context of educational institutions. Research suggests that hiring may be subject to implicit bias (Clauset et al., 2015), which could explain the gender disparity in leadership positions. Furthermore, men and women are differently represented in various fields of education, which, coincidentally, correspond to the stereotypes about “male” and “female” fields of expertise (Winslow & Davis, 2016). Naturally, if any of these fields experiences a decline, one of the genders will be affected to a greater extent. It should also be noted that the economic aspect is not inapplicable to the settings: women are still expected to be more engaged in childrearing and household chores, which limits the time that they can spend on their work (Hurst, 2015). This factor may explain the prevalence of women on part-time jobs, as well as a certain element of the hiring bias (Winslow & Davis, 2016). In other words, the causes of gender inequality are present in higher education.
Gender inequality can be described as the unequal treatment of genders (Winslow & Davis, 2016). Historically, women were directly and legally discriminated against in the workplace and elsewhere based on their gender. For example, women did not have the right to vote in the United States until 1920, when the corresponding amendment was added to the US Constitution (the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution of 1920). Later, other steps towards achieving legal equality were taken to protect the rights of the US women to work (the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and earn (the Equal Pay Act of 1963) (Beaumont, 2016; Evans, 2016). After the legal safeguards were instituted, additional measures to improve women’s employment opportunities were developed, including gender equality policies, education, affirmative action, and so on (Klein, 2016). Despite that history of reform, gender equality has not yet been achieved for women in the US.
While it is illegal to discriminate under US law, research indicates that it still occurs. For example, women are still underrepresented in positions of power (Beaumont, 2016; Clauset et al., 2015). An inference can be made that this is not a coincidence, or a representation of a lesser skill set. Furthermore, certain methods of achieving gender equality are not very effective; for example, Affirmative Action was described as problematic because it could be interpreted as the result of viewing women as deficient and unable to succeed on their own (Klein, 2016). Today, the research on the topic is more extensive than it was a few decades ago, and the history of efforts aimed at reducing inequality can be used to inform future decisions.
Purpose of the Study
It is apparent that higher education saw some improvements in the past years regarding gender inequality. In the US, the number of women in leadership positions keeps growing, which is partially attributed to legislative and policy-related improvements (Winslow & Davis, 2016). Similarly, various types of diversity management approaches appear to have a positive impact (Klein, 2016). In the modern age, people have a better understanding of gender stereotypes and their harmful implications, and the development of digital communications assists in spreading this information.
However, some negative consequences are also present, and they affect most people involved in higher education. Women are denied important advancement opportunities (Winslow & Davis, 2016), students lack necessary role models (Klein, 2016), and faculty and administration are deprived of potentially valuable members (Winslow & Davis, 2016). The general climate of gender inequality, especially if it is pronounced, may harm any woman that has to study or work in it. To summarize, gender inequality is a problem that requires investigation and solutions.
Leadership in Higher Education and Gender Inequality
There is an apparent connection between gender inequality and a lack of representation by women in the leadership of higher education institutions. Women remain underrepresented. Currently, about two-thirds of the US higher education leadership positions are taken by men (Winslow & Davis, 2016), and the disparity tends to increase for the most prominent posts such as chancellor or president (Klein, 2016; Winslow & Davis, 2016). As a result, choosing leaders as the source of information on gender inequality in education is justified. Leaders will be able to share personal experiences of being promoted, and many of them should also be able to make comments from the perspective of a person who is involved in hiring others. Aside from hiring, though, leaders are likely to be familiar with their institutions’ gender equality efforts, which also makes their contribution valuable.
In addition, the perspectives of educational leaders and faculty in higher education represents the least studied group of actors in this arena. There are many studies on gender shifts or disparities among students (Klein, 2016; Winslow & Davis, 2016) but few based on leadership perspectives. Since leaders are charged with implementing gender equality programs, their insights are critical.
Feminist Standpoint Theory (FST) will guide this study. It was characterized as the second major wave of feminism in the United States that was founded in the 1980s (Mosedale, 2014). FST does not have one particular author or founder. It was developed through years and contributed to by several strong feminist theorists, including Smith (1997), Collins (2002), and Harding (2004). The list of people involved in the development of this theory is not full, and it is necessary to admit that some contributors did not even know each other. This theory was introduced as a feminist epistemology, and it was used to explain the cases of oppression of people based on their gender. FST does not reject objectivity, but it highlights the fact that knowledge is socially constructed and situated (Mosedale, 2014). In other words, according to the supporters of FST, society is the root of knowledge.
According to Hekman (2013), another strong aspect of FST is its attempt to understand the nature of oppression experienced by women. Social reality is complex, and it is important to recognize a feminist standpoint regarding the experiences of women in different fields. To be heard and recognized, women must develop their standpoints and protect their positions. It is a political achievement that has a social nature. Some women are ready to take steps and protect their opinions, and some women are in need of motivation and promotion (Hekman, 2013).
Regarding the nature of FST and the participation of several theorists in its development, a number of concepts can be identified in a future study. Smith (1997) is one of the developers of the FST, and her field of interest is sociology. As a result, she added the idea of the relationships between people of both genders to her feminist theory (Hekman, 2013). In a similar way, Harding (2004) supports the importance of sustainability that may be observed in cultures, human needs, and scientific discrimination. Finally, the work of Collins (2002) helps to identify the role of stereotypes in the discussions of gender inequality.
The proposed dissertation intends to use FST as its conceptual theory, adopting a few of its critical terms, including “gender inequality,” “feminism,” “stereotype,” “social relationships,” and “sustainability” (Mosedale, 2014). It is based on the idea that gender equality in higher education and leadership presuppose the participation of all gender expressions in higher education leadership, and the differences in the genders’ representation is viewed as a symptom of inequality, which is a common approach to framing the two terms (Klein, 2016; Winslow & Davis, 2016). From this perspective, feminist theories assist in identifying such concepts as marginalization, domination, and stereotyping (Hekman, 2013). They also incorporate the idea of the importance of offering women with diverse perspectives an opportunity to voice their thoughts and concerns based on their personal standpoints and understandings of what they have to do and what they want to do (Hekman, 2013; Mosedale, 2014). From the perspective of this dissertation, such an approach to valuing individual voices can be used to justify the methodology used in this research (interviews).
To summarize, the study will use FST to consider the concept of gender inequality in higher education and cover the related gap in research. Even though there are recent articles and books about gender inequality as such, which can cover the US and education (Dunn et al., 2014; Evans, 2016; Hadjar& Gross, 2016; Mosedale, 2014), there are not many recent studies dedicated to gender equality in higher education leadership in the US. The dissertation will contribute more information on the topic, helping to cover the mentioned gap. From this perspective, FST can be used to define and frame the key concepts and terms of the dissertation, and it also provides justification for its methodology, which will be discussed in the next section.
The research questions addressed in this study are:
- How do educational leaders perceive the issue of gender inequality in higher education settings?
- How do educational leaders perceive the challenges of gender inequality in higher education settings?
- What are educational leaders’ best practices to address gender inequality in higher education settings?
Significance of the Study
Today, many people working in the field of higher education still experience gender inequalities, which impact important facets of university life, such as cooperation with students, educational leadership, and academic management. For this study, educational leaders are the focus, but it is difficult to deny that gender inequality is a complex problem which affects everyone in the field. As a result, the topic is frequently discussed by researchers worldwide (Clauset et al., 2015; Hadjar & Gross, 2016; Loots & Walker, 2015). Some of the key issues that are currently cited as evidence of gender inequality include the unequal representation of women in positions of power, as well as the fact that women are more likely to take part-time jobs and lower-paying positions in higher education (Klein, 2016; Winslow & Davis, 2016).
In the past, solutions to address gender equality have been proposed. The efforts that are commonly employed to reduce inequality include legislation, policies, affirmative action, diversity management, and diversity training (Klein, 2016; O’Connor, Carvalho, Vabø, & Cardoso, 2015; Spain, 2016). Legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 can be used to illustrate the former category (Beaumont, 2016; Evans, 2016). Some laws were specifically designed for educational institutions, such as Title IX of the Educational Amendments, which establishes that no gender-based discrimination in education should occur (Spain, 2016). However, legislation was complemented by other approaches, including but not limited to Affirmative Action.
Affirmative Action is not a new concept; it has been applied to other characteristics, such as race and ethnicity. Regarding an attempt to abate gender discrimination against women, it has been a different-level policy since the 1980s. In higher education, it consisted of establishing bodies that developed programs meant for supporting women (Klein, 2016; Potvin, Burdfield-Steel, Potvin, & Heap, 2018; Spain, 2016). Klein (2016) points out that Affirmative Action has been criticized for targeting only women, resulting in what could be described as preferential treatment. From this perspective, women could be viewed as incapable or needing special assistance to come up to standard, or incapable of succeeding without somebody’s help, which would promote stereotypes rather than challenge them. As a result, the effectiveness of this approach was called into question (Klein, 2016).
However, Affirmative Action programs were not dismissed as useless. Rather, they have been expanded and complemented by other programs that support several diverse groups in higher education, becoming a form of diversity management (Klein, 2016; O’Connor et al., 2015; Potvin et al., 2018). In addition, Klein (2016) comments on the implementation of training programs that are aimed at dismantling bias by educating people on the matters of inequality and diversity. In summary, various efforts aimed at reducing inequality and promoting equality in higher education have a history of a few decades, during which both effective and ineffective measures have been proposed and tested.
The numerous attempts at combating gender discrimination have already improved the systems of education in different countries (Hadjar & Gross, 2016). For instance, in the US, as well as the European Union, the number of female enrollees in educational institutions exceeds that of men, and there has been an increase in the number of women in educational leadership since the 1990s (Klein, 2016; Winslow & Davis, 2016). However, inequality persists within higher education settings. The different representation of genders in various fields of education and the fact that women still account for one-third of the faculty (while women are more than half the students) are the prime examples (Winslow & Davis, 2016). Moreover, for women, it takes longer to get promoted to professor or to top administrative positions, which are mostly occupied by men while women are relegated to part-time and temporary positions (Klein, 2016; Winslow & Davis, 2016). The latter factor also contributes to the wage gap (Winslow & Davis, 2016), with men earning significantly more than women in general in higher education.
The reasons for the persistence of these symptoms may be numerous. First, not all efforts that are aimed at improving diversity are effective (Klein, 2016). They may fail because of their inherent flaws (as, for example, may be the case with Affirmative Action) or because they are not implemented very well. The latter outcome may be a result of the persistence of gender bias, which does not have to be conscious (Beaumont, 2016). While legislative and policy-related methods of combating inequality are important, the understanding of barriers to their effective use is also required, especially since it can suggest more effective solutions.
Finding solutions for inequality is important for several reasons. First, gender inequality is a challenge for the personal and professional development of everyone involved in higher education (Dunn, Gerlach, & Hyle, 2014). Educational leaders have an impact on students and staff alike (Klein, 2016). Both male and female leaders become role models for their students, as well as the community, which is why the equal representation of genders in educational leadership is important. The existing trends, in which women are less likely to hold significant positions than men, also indicate the unequal distribution of power and resources between genders (Klein, 2016; Winslow & Davis, 2016). Without gender equality, these trends will persist. Students, graduates, staff, and administrators will be denied promotion opportunities based on their gender, which, in turn, will proceed to impact their wages (Winslow & Davis, 2016). Furthermore, students will not be exposed to female role models as often as they will encounter male role models, which may contribute to the implicit bias towards women and perpetuate negative stereotypes (Beaumont, 2016). These facts highlight the importance of combating gender inequality.
Definition of Key Terms
Definitions of key terms, which are most frequently used in the paper and are significant for research, are presented below:
Gender – The attitudes, behaviors, norms, and roles that a society or culture associates with an individual’s sex, thus the social differences between female and male; the meanings attached to being feminine or masculine (Open Education Sociology Dictionary).
Gender Inequality – The social process by which men and women are not treated as equal representatives of population.
Educational leaders – A collaborate process that unites the talents and forces of teachers, admirative and other employees in the efforts to achieve organizational excellence.
Quotas in the workplace – A requirement to hire a set number of employees of a particular race or gender.
Glass ceiling – An artificial, unseen, and often unacknowledged discriminatory barrier that prevents otherwise qualified people such as women and minorities from rising to positions of leadership and power, particularly within a corporation (Open Education Sociology Dictionary)
Sticky floor – A term which refers to low-paying, low-prestige, and low-mobility jobs typically held by women.
Gender biases – A form of unconscious bias, or implicit bias, which occurs when one individual unconsciously attributes certain attitudes and stereotypes to another person or group of people. These ascribed behaviors affect how the individual understands and engages with others (Reiners, 2019, para. 3)
Gender discrimination – a situation in which someone is treated less well because of their sex, usually when a woman is treated less well than a man (Cambridge dictionary)
Gender Policy – A policy aimed to contribute to better services for both women and men, through policies and programs which give more attention to gender considerations and promote equity and equality between women and men (Cambridge dictionary).
Organizational diversity -The term refers to equality of opportunity and employment without any bias because of these traits. According to the concept, “anyone who has the talent and passion to make it big in the professional world ought to get an opportunity to showcase his/her talent. Organizations eventually benefit from the innovate ideas of all individuals when pooled together” (Management Study Guide, 2020).
The purpose of this study is to examine the role of gender in higher education and its impact on educational leadership with a focus on gender inequalities, their consequences, and possible solutions to them. The problem that the research considered is gender inequality in private for-profit and nonprofit educational administrations. The main phenomena that are going to be discussed are gender inequalities in higher education as presented by educational leaders. They will be able to report on their understanding of the issue, as well as the challenges and the best practices that they know. Through the investigation of these perspectives, the study will be able to achieve its goal: it will contribute some data that may assist in improving the understanding of gender inequalities in higher education.
To sum up, gender inequality is an issue that causes problems for higher education in many countries, including the US. Its persistence indicates that there are barriers to reducing inequality, the reasons for which are important to investigate. Currently, research on the topic is expanding, with others examining the existing experience and using findings to inform future decisions. The present study will contribute to this trend.
Introduction to the Problem
The entry of the world’s leading countries into the information age, the transition to the intellectualization of production, a continuous innovation process in most industries, continuous education in intellectual professions objectively increases the role of science and higher education in the development of society and its creators and carriers – scientific and pedagogical workers. The problem lies in the contradiction between the need to increase the presence of women among highly qualified specialists and the preservation of various kinds of barriers limiting their career growth and upward social mobility.
Even if the representation of women in higher education and science is large enough, they are still discriminated against, are on the sidelines, in the shadow of men. Gender stratification leads to an unequal distribution of social valuable resources between men and women in society, reflecting different positions in the social hierarchy. The existence of gender stereotypes in the labor market leads to vertical segregation, or “glass ceiling” in the appointment of women to leadership positions. Experts associate the concept of a “glass ceiling” with the phenomenon of a “sticky floor” – the lack of opportunities for women to start their career quickly and restraining their careers at an early stage (Bank, 2011). Gender asymmetry also manifests itself in informal scientific communication, when, following the interests of the dominant gender group in the scientific community, a woman has to make special efforts to achieve recognition (De Welde & Stepnick, 2015). Thus, the prevailing stereotypes discourage young women scientists from participating in scientific research, which complicates their career and creative growth in the further professional educational sphere.
Difficulties arise even at the stage of employment: at an interview, women are assessed according to a larger number of criteria. According to the empirical studies, if men were assessed only by professional skills, women, in addition to professionalism, were assessed also the degree of benevolence and morality (Renzulli et al., 2013). Those who had these two traits were weak were “weeded out” (Renzulli et al., 2013). That is, women must “have everything” in order to get a chance to get the desired job at the university. However, at the same time, if a woman is of childbearing age, even meeting the above criteria does not always help to be hired. In addition, women’s work is viewed more pickily, and managers tend to attribute the achievements of women, especially in science, to their efforts rather than their abilities.
Gender stereotypes are formed through family education, school education system, the media, and established cultural traditions. On the one hand, gender stereotypes create a solid system of worldview and allow members of society to interpret social phenomena and processes in accordance with established views and principles of behavior. On the other hand, the presence of gender stereotypes in society is the cause of a number of barriers in the consciousness and behavior of people, which determine unequal relations between men and women. This is due to the fact that traditional behavioral gender roles remain in the public consciousness. Gender roles shape certain types of thinking and behavior of men and women depending on their gender in different social situations (Gartzia & van Knippenberg, 2016). Like any stereotypes, gender stereotypes are subject to changes over time: conservation, modification, and transformation. The persistence of gender stereotypes over time is associated with the concept of gender order. Stereotypes are constantly reproduced in the process of gender role interaction practices. Factors influencing the modification of gender stereotyping are age, social status, educational level and worldview (Seierstad, Gabaldon, & Mensi-Klarbach, 2017). Accordingly, with the change in social ideas and norms, social status and other components, gender stereotypes also change. The attitude of men towards women and women towards themselves in the conditions of the existence of society has changed greatly in recent years. Images reflecting the traditional perception of gender standards today successfully coexist with changed ideas about women and men social roles and expectations.
Mainstreaming a gender perspective in education and the media can be the main way to overcome gender stereotypes. The topic of equality (in historical, sociological, and political contexts) should be included in educational programs at all levels. It needs to be discussed and broadcast through the media. An important condition is the formation of views on equal inclusion in the scientific community of both men and women. In addition, a professional approach to public discussion of gender equality issues during outreach activities is required, since changes in curricula and the education system should be carried out in parallel with changes in the system of social norms and attitudes among universities staff. In this context, it seems appropriate to systematically consider the problem of gender inequality in education, including in a historical retrospective.
History of Women in Higher Education
Parker (2015) states that the desire of women to attend higher education institutions in 1830s and 1840s in the US triggered a significant debate. In the debate that lasted for a century, the conservatives held that the role of women including homemakers, wives and mothers would not require college education. On the other hand, liberals claimed that higher education would assist the women in playing their roles better even if it is at the household level. By 1875, there were about seven women colleagues including Barnard, Smith, Mount Holyoke, Vassar, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley, and Radcliffe, all aimed at meeting the demand for college education for women (Parker, 2015). The first generation of women graduates demonstrated their determination to play active role by seeking position in their colleges as alumni. The colleges started realizing the advantages of having women in various leadership and administration roles leading to increasing number of women professors, deans, and administrators at the institutions. The number of women students had increased significantly, which led to the increased number of female faculty, advisors, and counselors to cater for the female students. In 1892, the first dean of women, Alice Palmer, was appointed the position for the first time at the University of Chicago. By the 1940s, the dean of women and women in other leadership positions had established themselves strongly in higher education institutions. In the 1950s, years after the World War II, women in different leadership and employment, and in higher education declined significantly. The restoration of the values of “natural” mission, lost during the period of active involvement of women in military production, became part of the conservative policy of the 1950s. The concept of “republican motherhood” began to take the leading place in gender propaganda (Solomon, 1986). A large pool of women settled for domestic roles as wives, housekeepers, and mothers.
The United States of America clearly demonstrates a desire to use internal reserves for the development of society, creating opportunities for the full realization of the potential of the country’s female population, seeing in this a powerful source of its own progress. It is no coincidence that Ambassador Ellen Sowerbray, who led the US delegation to the United Nations Commission in March 2005 when the status of women was summed up and International Women’s Day was celebrated, emphasized that the US has committed substantial financial and human resources to progress and efforts to end violence against women, including trafficking in women and children; to expand access to health care, education and economic opportunity; ensuring the rights of women in conflict situations; providing protection and assistance to refugee women and internally displaced persons; increasing the political activity of women; ensuring equality and non-discrimination in law and in practice. Sowerbray focused on it as the Commission on the Status of Women reaffirmed the goals and standards set out in 1995 at the UN World Women’s Conference in Beijing (Shabliy et al., 2020). At the same time, the United States, concerned about the role of a leader and defender of democratic values in the international arena, themselves face certain problems related to the realization of citizens’ rights in their entirety and scope in their own country – it is namely about equality between men and women, about gender justice. Even today, the salary of women in science – that is, mostly, in the universities, is 25% lower than that of men. In some scientific areas, the gap is not so noticeable and decreases to 4% (Shabliy et al., 2020). However, the overall picture is clear: this is lower than the average in the economy, but nevertheless the gap is significant.
Results of social research show that the following are among the main gender stereotypes reproduced by society (Santamaria & Santamaria, 2015):
- The stereotype of “masculinity” and “femininity,” according to which a man should be active and a woman passive in public life.
- The stereotype of behavior in the family, according to which the man is the breadwinner, the head of the family, and the woman plays the role of “keeper of the hearth.” The field of activity of a successful woman is family, while the field of activity of a successful man is professional realization.
- The stereotype of the “choice of profession,” according to which certain types of professional activity are “assigned” to men and women.
The ‘destiny’ (mission) of a woman is seen as the executive and service nature of labor, while the field of activity of a man is creative, constructive, leading work. The identified stereotypes not only characterize interpersonal communication between men and women, but also determine the traditions of socialization, and, consequently, the nature of relations in the main institutions of society, including the institute of education. Despite the fact that the institute of education and science should reduce gender inequality and destroy false stereotypes, asymmetry exists and continues to be reproduced in the implementation of women’s and men’s educational strategies. The difference in the implementation of male and female educational strategies is that the opportunities for the implementation of male educational strategies are practically unlimited, while educational strategies for women have certain limitations (Evans, 2016). These restrictions can be divided into two groups: objective and subjective. Objective limitations include the historical traditions that exist in society in the education of men and women. Subjective restrictions include gender stereotypes and norms of life that exist in society.
Women continuously regained their active role in higher education in the 1960s and 1970s when equality against discrimination was highly advocated in the US. However, males continue to hold majority of presidents, vice-presidents, deans, and other prestigious administrative position in higher education institutions. For instance, in 2012, about 86% of presidents, provosts, and chancellors in Universities and 75% of professors were males (Madsen, 2012). Female professors are also considered to be taking longer than male counterparts in moving up the career ladder. The issue of gender inequality in higher education than therefore not been fully addressed.
The Legal Perspective and Implications
The problem of gender inequality in higher education in the US has highly been addressed through the legal reforms over the years. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was the first legal act in American history to restrict discrimination on the basis of gender by employers. According to it, the employer is obliged to pay equally for the work of men and women when they fulfill their responsibilities and are performing work in equal working conditions (Pasque & Nicholson, 2011). This bill, which has been in Congress since pre-war times, was implemented largely under the influence of the activities and recommendations of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.
The 1964 law provided for the use of the executive branch to implement anti-discrimination employment policies. To this end, a special Commission on Equal Employment Opportunities was formed, which had the authority not only to monitor the implementation of laws, but also to serve as a third judge in the pre-trial resolution and conflict resolution of employees and employers. Already in the second half of the 1960s, the Commission was inundated with tens of thousands of complaints about illegal employment practices. The Commission has developed guidelines defining gender discrimination in more detail and facilitating the procedure for bringing claims to court. The Commission’s regulations stated that refusal to employ women on the basis of gender, based on stereotypical practices of preference and proposals for comparative characteristics of the sexes, is considered discriminatory. In addition, it is illegal to divide work into “male” and “female” in hiring, advertise the availability of vacancies “only men” or “only women,” deprive of the opportunity to get a job due to pregnancy or childbirth.
The most prominent Acts include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Education Amendments of 1972. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides that no one should be discriminated based their background in terms of race, color, religion, sex and or nationality (Hayter, 2018). The Act prohibits discrimination in the hiring, promoting, and firing, as well as accessing federally (public) funded programs including in education (Stephens, 2016). The implication of the Act is that women in higher education are protected against discriminations and should be given a chance to undertake their roles and climb the career ladder based on their capabilities.
The Education Amendments Of 1972 is also known as Title IX, it strongly prohibits discrimination in education institutions based on gender (Liu et al., 2016). It provides that no person should be discriminated in terms of admission in vocational education, professional education, and graduate higher education institutions. To boost the access, the law provides that all students joining or in progress in higher education programs are entitled to federal financial assistance. It is required that such assistance should be channeled directly to the students rather than through the financial institutions (Yanus & O’Connor, 2016). The implication of the Act is that women intending to pursue higher education can access it, while those in employment position and with prerequisite qualifications should be given equal chances as the male counterparts in employment and leadership positions.
During the 1970s, as gender equality practices were adopted in universities, feminists made amendments to strengthen the legal framework for eliminating discrimination. A 1976 amendment to the Vocational Education Act obliged states that received education reform funding to devote a portion of their funds to special programs to eliminate discrimination caused by sexist prejudice and stereotyping (Laird, 2006). In recent years, there has been a clear trend of legislative quotas for the presence of women in top management. Researchers note that gender parity in both corporate directorships and higher education institutions provides a number of visible benefits: a multilateral view of governance; reducing risks; minimization of “group thinking”; increasing company efficiency and sustainable development; attracting investors’ interest (Longman, 2018). Nevertheless, government-determined quotas for women are considered by some experts to be the last resort to be taken (Grau et al., 2020). Instead, it is more beneficial for organizations to take care of the promotion of women in top management by themselves: to monitor a fair selection process for candidates for leadership positions, organize educational programs and trainings, and open private nurseries. Many large European companies follow this path. This is not about political correctness at all, but about ensuring equal chances for the best talent – no matter what gender.
In general, affirmative actions were created in order to overcome divisions. In terms of encouraging a greater presence of women in higher education, this policy has been successful. However, from the point of view of classical liberalism, it violates the basic principle of individual equality: belonging to a group that provides institutional advantages (Fisher & Massey, 2007). The disputes around affirmative action have been going on for almost 50 years – Democrats support them while Republicans criticize these actions. In European countries with their traditions of social reformism, a gender-sensitive policy of “equality with regard to differences” organically fit into the legitimate discourse of the “welfare state.” Within this discourse, gender equality meant that differences (dissimilarity) between men and women should not lead to a difference in their socio-economic status. Therefore, the policy of “equal rights” must be supplemented with special state programs to improve the status of women and meet their specific needs (Fitzgerald, 2013). In the United States, due to the lack of social democratic traditions, on the one hand, and the traditional rejection of government intervention, on the other, there are many more opponents of social policy. They insisted that any “difference” in the treatment of women leads to the reinforcement of their social marginality and psychological inferiority complex (Mullen, 2012). Public debate over the relevant legislation is still rather fierce.
Regulators cannot directly order to private universities; however, if the federal government strives to enforce, it can set special conditions for receiving federal money. For employers, it is namely the case: affirmative action is mandatory for those who have government contracts. Positive discrimination places the rights of a particular racial, ethnic, or, in this study, gender group above the rights of the individual. Opponents often point out that affirmative action contradicts Martin Luther King’s well-known premise: to judge persons by their individual qualities, not by their skin color (Museus, 2015). Built into the administrative-political system of the state, it contributes not to unification, but to the separation of people, indirectly encouraging mistrust and envy on racial, ethnic, or gender grounds. Research has shown that many African American and Hispanic students who are admitted to elite universities with notoriously low rates of admission fail, and, therefore, dropout rates are high. This poses a different problem: how to keep them within the walls of the educational institution, since for reporting, for the University it is necessary to have good indicators on graduates from minorities (Museus, 2015). In other words, due to the artificial policy of quotas, people appeared not on their ‘place.’ Obviously, this also applies to university scientific and pedagogical personnel, when women who did not strive for these positions and did not have the necessary leadership qualities and skills find themselves in leading or highly expert positions. In states where racial preference has been prohibited, universities have found other ways to expand diversity, and these alternatives are better because they take social status into account (Smith, 2015). Equally, naturally, this should also apply to gender diversity.
Affirmative action primarily for African Americans, Hispanics, and women in education, employment and business contracts was originally conceived in the 1960s as a temporary measure. However, after 50 years, this policy has exhausted its possibilities, has overgrown with a network of bureaucratic institutions and, as often happens, turned into an ideological goal in itself: to provide administratively proportional representation of racial and gender groups ‘from above.’
Intellectual Capital and Gender Equality
The theory of social capital organically entered the system of sociological concepts and made it possible to expand the understanding of the mechanisms of social relations. In particular, it turned out that the possession of social capital opens the way to a higher socio-economic status, expanding influence on other people, awareness, financial well-being, career, and contributes to life satisfaction, health, and life expectancy. However, these and many other properties of social capital are actualized in the context of gender asymmetry and, therefore, are increasingly recognized as significant in the discourse of gender studies (O’Neill, 2013). Gender theory contains considerable potential for analyzing social capital, since the division of society into two social classes – men and women – presupposes the existence of a common social experience within these classes and, thus, grounds for solidarity and tolerance. One of the main areas of gender mainstreaming in the acquisition and use of social capital is the sphere of institutional relations.
The higher the position, the fewer women are represented in the leadership of higher education institutions. The situation in higher education reflects the gender stratification of society as a whole, demonstrating by its example the unequal status of women and men. Despite the fact that more women are employed in education, positions in management are predominantly occupied by men. Among universities, the position of rector is most often held by men and less often by women (84 and 16%, respectively) (Kezar, 2014). The positions of deans of faculties and heads of departments are also dominated by men. Professorships held by men are twice as common as those held by women. In contrast, lower positions (such as associate professor, senior lecturer, teacher, assistant) are mostly held by women. In the latter two categories, the ratio of men to women differs significantly towards the prevalence of women (Berg, 2019). These data eloquently indicate that there is a clear gender asymmetry in the higher education system. To solve this problem, it is necessary to create equal conditions for men and women in all positions, including top management ones. These conditions should provide for the possibility of occupying a particular position solely on the basis of the professional qualities of the candidates, which directly determine the effectiveness of their future activities.
In education and science, women are concentrated primarily in the humanities. Sociological studies show that it is more difficult for women to pursue careers, both academic and administrative, in the “male” sectors of employment in the education system, in the “male” sciences (Schnackenberg & Simard, 2018). When it comes to women’s participation in research in general, in the United States, as in many other countries, a “leaking pipeline” phenomenon can be observed (Kezar & Posselt, 2019). Women are actively pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees and even outperform men by this criterion, since the proportion of women among graduates is 53%, but at the doctoral level it drops sharply, and the proportion of men (57%) exceeds the proportion of women (Schnackenberg & Simard, 2018). The differences are amplified at the level of researchers in scientific units of the Universities. Thus, a high proportion of women in higher education does not necessarily translate into a high proportion of women in scientific workers.
In the works on the analysis of intellectual capital, the authors highlight a classification that can characterize members of senior management (O’Neill, 2013):
- Insider – a director who is the founder of the organization, has family ties with the founder or holds any managerial position in the company;
- Specialist – a director who is a professional manager, civil servant, or has another very clear specialization;
- Business manager – a director who is a top manager or manager of a company;
- Interacting with society (Influential) – a director with experience in a university, non-profit organization, hospital, or charitable organization.
The analysis based on the classification described above, presented in the literature, allows concluding that a feature of the human capital of women – members of senior management is that they are much more likely to perform the function of “interacting with society,” while men are business managers (Kouzes & Posner, 2019). Another characteristic of the human capital of women leaders and managers is that they are less likely to have a basic mathematical or technical education, they have fewer connections in the entrepreneurial environment, business incubators and start-ups.
In sociological studies devoted to the problem of gender inequality in universities, on average, more than half of the research participants (54%) do not share the traditional ideas about the purpose of women, based on gender stereotypes (stating the main thing for a woman is family, motherhood, caring for others) (Pasque & Nicholson, 2011). A non-working woman, as noted by 72% of respondents, cannot fully satisfy the needs for personal growth and self-realization (Pasque & Nicholson, 2011). At the same time, 82% of respondents agree that men have an obvious advantage over women when hiring, two-thirds of respondents believe that women, compared to men, have more restrictions on promotion and scientific careers (Pasque & Nicholson, 2011). When studying the question of what requirements for professional activity prevail in men and women, it was found that they are more gender typed. For male teachers, these requirements are associated with opportunities for advancement, career growth (63%), high wages (52%), the ability to independently make decisions in the labor process (39%). For the female part of the sample, the ability to communicate with people (50%), working conditions (41%), satisfaction of the need to be useful to people (26%), and the creative nature of work (24%) are decisive in professional activity (Berg, 2019). In this regard, the study of social-status relations, value orientations, ways of adaptation of men and women who are scientists and university teachers, the definition of their specific problems in the process of self-realization, the identification of specific problems of professional growth in the context of the transformation of modern society requires special study.
Society largely determines the gender culture of an individual. However, the gender culture of a society is not just the sum of the behaviors of individuals. This is a characteristic of the state of society as a system, including the specifics of gender perception by subsystems of different levels. Since the development prospects of any state are largely related to the activities of its educational institutions, it is legitimate to talk about the special function of higher education in the development of the gender culture of society, no less important than such as research and training of highly qualified personnel. University gender culture can be viewed as a set of characteristics inherent in certain groups of the university environment – faculty, administration and students.
Gender education at the university is implemented through disciplines of the relevant subject, which are read in various versions for students, as a rule, in socio-humanitarian areas of training. Gender is one of the basic categories in the cycles of sociology and psychology. In addition, specialized disciplines are being developed and introduced: Genderology and Feminology, Sociology of Gender, and so on. However, teaching these disciplines can hardly give the expected results if, in fact, the practice of gender inequality among the teaching staff persists in universities.
Meanwhile, already today, the intellectual capital of universities, including knowledge, competencies, professional experience of employees, reputation indicators, client component, etc., begins to play the most significant role in their advanced and sustainable development. For effective management of the intellectual capital of the university, it is necessary to determine the goals of the organization’s development, which include the following: improving the quality of the educational process; increasing the target audience; consolidation of competitive positions in the labor market; increasing sources of income, etc. To achieve the set goals, it is necessary to determine which type of asset in the structure of intellectual capital most affects the solution of the set goal and what transaction costs are typical for this type of asset, and then develop measures to reduce them.
The concept of intellectual capital is also closely related to the management of organizational diversity – an interdisciplinary area of scientific knowledge, the concept and strategy of personnel management of an organization, aimed at recognizing and respecting differences in the organization. It implies educating personnel in the spirit of tolerance, as well as identifying, disclosing and using professional and personal potential of employees belonging to various social groups as a resource and factor in the development of the organization and the achievement of its competitive advantages (Campbell, 2018). The subject of diversity management is the concept, strategies and technologies of diversity management, aimed at identifying and disclosing the professional and personal potential of employees, taking into account their individual characteristics. In the academic and business literature, diversity management and the very concept of organizational diversity are usually viewed in a cross-cultural context. However, gender diversity has not received adequate attention – it is believed that the legal observance of quotas is sufficient. This is especially true of educational institutions, since in the business environment, leaders are still concerned about the impact of diversity on organizational performance.
Gender Equality and Sustainable Development
The introduction of sustainable development principles into the global higher education system began about 30 years ago, and now it is one of the global trends. The accumulated international experience is quite extensive and can be in demand when developing a national concept for sustainable development of higher education in any country, including the United States. Currently, most universities in Europe and North America are involved in green initiatives through environmental policy, development of action plans for the transition to principles of sustainability, rethinking curricula and research programs (Poeck et al., 2019). According to a number of estimates, more than 1000 academic institutions have already joined the international framework declarations on the implementation of the principles of sustainable development in higher education, including the development of educational programs (High Education for Sustainable Development) (Shephard, 2015). At the same time, the latter include both “Sustainability courses,” in which the main focus is on sustainability and/or the study of one or more main issues of sustainability, and “Courses that include sustainability,” focused on other topics, but including separate modules on sustainability issues.
Sustainable development programs for universities vary depending on the specifics of national law, the role of the university in various communities and in the region as a whole, university traditions, the specifics of campus placement and planning, management system, etc. At the same time, it is generally accepted that sustainability should be assessed in three dimensions: social, economic, and environmental (Poeck et al., 2019). Therefore, programs for sustainable development of universities, as a rule, include the following: a sustainable or “green” campus, transformation of the management system, changes in the educational process and research topics, intensification of interaction with the external environment (local communities and public organizations, government bodies and business). However, without gender equality, these initiatives are patchy and of little use, since there is no change at the conceptual level, but only for show, for “combed” integrated reporting in order to “show off.”
It is known that in the system of sustainable development, the economic direction is associated with the creation of consumer value by the organization and the strengthening of the financial performance of its activities. The social direction includes effective management of social and national diversity, equal rights of gender, social and national groups and social justice, and the environmental direction is traditionally associated with waste disposal and preservation of the so-called natural capital. An imbalance in at least one element, in accordance with the theory of systems, negatively affects the entire system, triggering entropy processes.
The Challenges of Gender Inequality in Higher Education Settings
According to Barone and Assirelli (2020), gender-based discrimination is a complicated problem with significant implications on other sectors. The problem is considered a key factor behind the persistent gender inequalities in the labor market. Women have historically remained dominant in fields of study such as social sciences and humanities, and relatively less in fields above average such as engineering and ICT. Jacobs (1996) states that women are better placed in terms of access to higher education, which explains the reason why they are slightly more than the male counterparts in higher learning institutions. However, they (women) are not doing well in terms of experience and schooling outcomes, which is associated with the contexts in which women continue to lag behind men.
At the same time, it should be noted that the often low level of activity of women in the field of professional careers and their representation in the system of higher education management is mainly due to two reasons. First, it is the conscious self-elimination of a significant part of women themselves from professional careers in universities, the origins of which should be sought in the stability of gender stereotypes regarding the distribution of social roles in public and private life in their minds. A universal problem of working women, including teachers, is the need to combine professional and family responsibilities, especially in terms of caring for dependent family members – children, elderly relatives. Despite the fact that the specifics of teaching work (a relatively flexible schedule, the ability to do part of the work at home, long summer vacations, etc.) create additional opportunities for achieving a work-family balance. In comparison with male teachers, women experience difficulties due to for which their productivity often decreases, job growth slows down and incomes fall. Considering the family and the upbringing of children as the main area of application of their efforts, they prefer the positions of a kind of line or middle manager rather than an administrative employee position at the university, which require presence at the workplace throughout the working day. Women prefer teaching positions associated with less work time and the absence of the need to be at the workplace during the whole day (Seierstad et al., 2017). At the same time, a woman generally devotes all her free time from work to family concerns.
Second, nowadays, administrative positions in universities (rector, vice-rector, dean, head of the department, etc.) often represent a very important way for men to express power aspirations, a sphere of application of organizational, intellectual abilities, an opportunity for self-affirmation, image enhancement and etc. Therefore, the desire for a successful career in this area is accompanied not so much by a competition of equal abilities and real merits of applicants for high positions, but by processes that are completely different in their content, in which the objective needs of the higher education system, the quality of research and pedagogical work, and democratic principles of selection occupy far from the very first place (Manning, 2017). Under these conditions, the occupation of these administrative positions by women as a result of participation in competition on equal terms with men is very problematic. In this case, the cause of gender inequality in this area is no longer gender stereotypes about the division of labor, but a specific social order, as well as corporate, group or purely selfish interests, the desire to redistribute, monopolize, or consolidate administrative resources, and so on.
In fact, the tool of gender expertise is not used in the process of developing educational standards, educational-methodological complexes in the vocational education system. Increasing the gender competence of vocational education teachers is not mandatory and systematic, which in turn does not guarantee that they will not avoid discriminatory practices and the reproduction of gender bias and stereotypes in their work (Madsen, 2012). At the same time, there is an obvious lack of human resources and methodological support for advanced training courses on gender issues. Interestingly, the data show that even in European countries, where this issue is paid significant attention, many initiatives to implement the achievement of gender models are lacking (De Welde & Stepnick, 2015). This may be because causality is complex as a number of factors affect achievement.
Szewczok & Parslow (2018) focus on the research to investigate the experience of gender minority in their respective academic disciplines particularly in the segregated fields such as nursing, STEM and o family studies. The findings revealed that being in the gender minority group presented significant challenges and obstacles. Lack of adequate mentorships, oppression and segregation against the majority gender are key hindrance to the excelling of the individuals. In the higher education, having women as the minority in the leadership and administrative positions therefore puts the women students and low ranted staff in both the teaching and non-teaching areas at disadvantage (Schnackenberg & Simard, 2018). It is therefore implying that the issue of gender inequality continues to be experienced as the women do not get the equal chances to excel in both higher graduate studies in career advancement.
According to Cruz (2020) one of the key issues leading to the escalation of gender inequality in higher education is the sexual assaults. The spirit and intention of Title IX aimed at addressing such issues to ensure that the gender minority or disadvantaged would get a chance to excel and advance their opportunities. However, Cruz (2020) found that the intended outcomes from the application of the law in higher education is far from been achieved due to the poor implement by the leadership and administrators in the institutions. The symbolic implementation Title IX has led to institutional betrayal due to actions and inaction exacerbating traumatic experiences. The institutional leadership and Title IX implementing administrators are largely focused on protecting liabilities and reputation of their institutions.
Barone & Assirelli (2020) states that gender segregation, which is rampant in higher education is the key factor for the persistence of gender inequality in the labor market. The problem continues to exist despite the elimination of gender gap in educational accomplishment. Gender inequality has continuously led to a situation where women continue to dominate the fields that are of low regards such as humanities and social sciences, and significantly low presence in areas such as engineering and ICT.
Henning et al. (2017) undertook a systematic review to assess the extent of workplace harassment in higher education. The workplace harassments lead to adverse effects on the productivity of the workers and health effects to the victims. The review revealed that there is high prevalence of workplace harassment in higher education institutions in the form of gender harassment and workplace bullying. Women are particularly more prone to both forms of harassments, which particularly contribute to gender inequality in higher education. The gender harassment may include aspect such as discrimination in the distribution of the opportunities for promotion into the higher leadership and administrative positions. It therefore implies that even women with the potential faced significant hindrance to rise to the leadership positions such as presidents, chancellors, vice-chancellors, and deans among others in higher learning institutions.
Winslow & Davis (2016) concurs with the findings by Henning et al. (2017) stating that despite the structural changes in the institution of higher learning, gender inequality persists due to persistence reinforcement of masculine ideal worker standards. The situation brings about meritocratic discourse in that the performance of women in various positions in higher learning are underrated, and hence does not reflect their potential. It implies that for a woman to rise the lander and have the same career trajectories as a male counterpart, she needs to sacrifice a lot and work extra-hard. Gender inequality is therefore intensified by the fact that women faculty members face extra challenges due to the family responsibilities and the heavy workplace demands (Göktürk &Tülübaş, 2020).
Special mention should be made of explicitly or latently harmful gender-discriminatory HR practices that are directly related to the formation of the social capital of universities. Traditionally, among specialists in the field of HR management, there is an opinion that although the organizational behavior of women and men in any kind of activity is quite identical in their external parameters, but if to consider the quality of their performance of many labor operations, it is far from always unambiguous (Longman, 2014). In this regard, it is expedient to always use a gender factor in HR management.
Traditional gender roles almost always impose significant barriers in the personal development of an individual, in other words, objectively contribute to the formation of a certain level of personal inequality. Experts cite standard stereotypes of external assessment of the impact of women on work efficiency (Kezar, 2014):
- They are overly attentive to colleagues and partners, kind-hearted and excessively dependent on other people’s opinions, while similar qualities in most people brought up in a highly competitive society are associated with the figure of a weak, ineffective leader and manager;
- Women can have less influence on the growth of the efficiency of development and functioning of the organization;
- Women are less creative and mostly prone to routine activities;
- Women are less able than men to effectively manage personnel;
- In almost any social system, there is a persistent prejudice that it is more expedient to form top management mainly from men;
- The traditional family responsibilities of a woman, the periodic interruption of professional activity in childcare interfere with her successful work and professional development.
However, the very attitudes of women contribute to the persistence of gender inequality in education. In one of the studies, for male respondents, the three main criteria that motivate them to choose a career path for their development were, in decreasing order of importance, the following: prospects for high wages (28.6%), demand in the labor market (24.5%) and the social prestige of the profession (16.7%). For female respondents, the main criteria turned out to be somewhat different: prospects for high wages (19.6%), relaxed (flexible) working hours (19.2%) and job security (17.1%) (Kouzes & Posner, 2019). It is quite obvious that in the presence of such a system of values, it will be extremely difficult to achieve a remedy for the situation, and affirmative action can further exacerbate the existing problems.
Some studies show that in many sectors of economy salaries of women are evidently less than in men. In particular, WSJ study of wages across 446 occupations found that women in many prestigious occupations earn significantly less than their male counterparts (Evans, 2016). The largest gap is with doctors, compensation managers and personal financial advisors (Evans, 2016). At the same time, if the law obliges employers to disclose wage data, nothing will change, says Harvard University economics professor Claudia Goldin, one of the main experts on gender pay differentials. A study she published in 2010 found that women graduates of the University of Chicago with MBA degrees receive approximately equal salaries with men, but after 10 years their earnings are only 57% of the salaries of men. Women become mothers, take a break from their careers, and give up extra hours of work that generate higher pay; these professions are not lenient with maternity leave, says Goldin (Goldin as cited in Evans, 2016). The highest paid white-collar workers are those with the most hours and frequent job changes, so women raising children are relatively few in this group of the highest paid workers. Undoubtedly, these factors must be taken into account when developing any policies to reduce gender inequality in higher education, since the above conclusions can equally be attributed to the situation in science and management in higher education.
The peculiarity of the representation of women in the system of intra-university management is that, as a rule, they occupy the ‘second-order’ managerial positions in universities (deputy deans, deputy heads of departments, etc.), take on the burden of responsibility for managing the internal life of the university. This can sometimes be as difficult as managing external relations (Fitch & van Brunt, 2016). The ongoing reforms in higher education do not take into account institutional gender disparities and socio-economic consequences of the devaluation of women’s human potential. Solving the problem of the formation and development of an individual professional career, taking into account gender characteristics, requires special knowledge and scientific approaches. Despite the fact that studies of gender issues of management in higher education represent a rather noticeable thematic cross-section in modern socio-economic sciences, the issues of systemic formation, implementation, and development of the managerial potential of women leaders in higher education have not received deep scientific and practical study.
Practices to Address Gender Inequality in Higher Education Settings
Buitendijk, Curry and Maes (2019) state that enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion in higher education brings about a range of advantages. The realization of this ideal situation requires efforts to ensure that under-represented groups are brought on board, the creation of a diverse community among the students and staff and having in place an all-inclusive curriculum. The leadership and administrators have a greater role to ensure that diversity is highly upheld in the higher learning institutions. Buitendijk, Curry and Maes (2019) investigated the best practice upheld by leading universities across the world in upholding equality, diversity and inclusion, and hence eliminating gender inequality to a great extent. The top leadership of the higher learning institutions should first familiarize themselves with the situation of inequality and subsequently acknowledge the existence of structural biases and gender inequality. The realization of this requirement is that the leadership should undertake both the internal and external research to understand the existing issues. The accumulation of the knowledge in this regard would be a pivot step towards the evidence-based changes to address the problem. The leadership should subsequently and in collaboration with all stakeholders analyses the situation, identify the potential strategies or interventions. The potential impact of the identified strategies and programs should measure both qualitatively and quantitatively. The importance of the measure is to ensure that the programs with the best outcomes would be selected.
The other important practice that the topic leadership should uphold in the attempt to end the gender based inequality in higher education is the communication to other players in the institution acknowledging the existence of the problem and the commitment required for the intended outcomes to be realized. The communication offers opportunity to discussion with the other parties showing them empathy and convincing them of the need to accept changes required, for gender and other forms of inequality to be addressed (Timmers, Willemsen & Tijdens, 2010). Subsequently, the leadership need to lead by example and in collaboration with the rest of the institutional leadership to rollout the interventions throughout the institution. The realization of the best outcomes would particularly require that the leadership embark on training on gender inequalities identified, their impact and the programs to be pursued. The training to those in various leadership positions would likely to be enlightening enabling them to support the efforts put in place.
At the same time, initiatives on gender equality are not and should not be fixed or unified. They must be adapted to the culture in which they exist – for example, at the level of the northern and southern states, which are characterized by different historical and cultural contexts. Initiatives need to be culturally responsive and adapted based on ongoing assessments of performance characteristics and gender patterns, especially given the rate of change in gender relations in recent times.
Peterson (2011) advocated for a formal gender mix policy in higher education as an effective approach to facilitate the realization of gender equality. The aim of the policy is to ensure that both men and women are include in positions, groups, teams, and committees in different levels of higher education institutions. Subsequently, more women would be given the opportunity to rise into the management and administrative positions, with same been applied down into lower ranks. According to UNESCO (2010) such a policy should be formalized and closely monitored to ensure that it provides for non-negotiable or enabling guidelines on gender equality.
Roos et al. (2020) opines that the institutions adopt such a policy, or any other strategy should have time bound measures defining expected outcomes within specified timelines. Through their systematic review, the authors identified a range of strategies that are likely to assist in addressing gender inequalities. The first fold of the intervention is the focus mentoring and training programs for individuals and groups with the objective of equipping women to effectively play their roles and gain the required momentum for career progression. The initiatives would prepare the women to be up to task and gain confidence to take-up even top leadership positions in the higher learning institutions. Benschop and van Brink (2014) managing diversity strategies through the revaluation of existing programs identifying gaps in tackling unconscious gender biases, while doing away with the intervention that are redundant. Structural transformational strategies through transformation of organizational processes and routines is also the other approach identified for addressing gender inequality. Structural inclusion strategies such as positive discrimination, affirmative actions and quotas can be deliberate and targeted approach to assist in addressing gender inequality in higher education (Roos et al. 2020).
The purpose of the study is to investigate the issues related to gender inequality in higher education in the US and related solutions. The literature review provides the insights from secondary sources on the issue implying that it has attracted the attention of other researchers. It can be noted that the organization of universities reflects the gender stratification of society and culture as a whole, demonstrating by its example the unequal status of women and men, gender stratification of the teaching profession, gender asymmetry of teaching staff and students. With a sufficiently large number of women – teachers of the university – one can still talk about the presence of gender asymmetry, expressed in an insufficient number of women – professors, women – heads of scientific and educational departments. This can be explained by such phenomena of reality as the patriarchal traditions of society that still exist, the double employment of women, that is, work and family. In recap, even though women have increasingly gained access to higher education and the enactment of different Acts and policies, they (women) remains the minority in the leadership on the institutions. The aspect led to the issue of gender inequality. Issues such as segregated field in which women are dominant in term field such as social science, while male dominate in the STEM is a concern raised. Issues of sexual assaults, and the hindrance faced by women such as the high demands for family care and workplace expectations reduced their chances to rise into leadership and administrative positions in higher educations. The commitment of leadership in various higher learning institutions to instigate, evaluate and communicate the strategies to reduce gender inequality is fundamentally required. Mentoring and training the stakeholders, managing diversity strategies, and Structural transformational strategies are identified as key tools for the addressing of the gender inequality in higher learning institutions.
Methodology and findings
The proposed research intends to employ a qualitative approach. It will use email interviews. Qualitative research is typically employed to explore a phenomenon and gain insights on the topic (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). In addition to that, the use of qualitative methods is in line with FST, which highlights the importance of providing women with an opportunity to voice their experiences (Hekman, 2013). From the perspective of the present study, it means that gender inequality can be described by qualitative methods.
The project will employ the elements of a narrative study. Creswell and Creswell (2017) explain narrative research as a type of work where a researcher must communicate with people, gather their stories, and combine different points of view to answer the main research question. An interview is a method to gather qualitative information in this kind of research (Maxwell, 2009). The proposed study intends to employ online interviews; in particular, email interviews will be used. The topic of email interviews requires extensive consideration to ensure that its choice is justified because the method is emerging.
Presently, Internet-based communication methods are being adjusted for research purposes. The reason for the development is that the Internet is being used increasingly by people all over the world (Iacono, Symonds, & Brown, 2016; Mason & Ide, 2014; Ratislavová & Ratislav, 2014). Additionally, the Internet has the major advantage of establishing communication between people from different parts of the world, which makes it less time- and resource-consuming (Ratislavová & Ratislav, 2014). Various technologies have been used for interviews in the modern day; they incorporate messengers, including voice-based ones like Skype, platforms like Facebook, and emails (Iacono et al., 2016). The proposed research suggests using email interviews because this approach is particularly well-suited for its aims.
The quality of the data provided by email interviews is generally comparable to that offered by other, more traditional methods (Bowden & Galindo-Gonzalez, 2015). Furthermore, email interviews have important advantages. Participants have a very high level of control over the process of interviewing in the case of emails (Mason & Ide, 2014). Consequently, participants can feel empowered by the procedure (Ratislavová & Ratislav, 2014). This factor is particularly important for ethically appropriate research since power imbalance can be problematic for the voluntarily of participation and information disclosure (Brooks, Riele, & Maguire, 2014; Råheim et al., 2016). Also, power imbalances can result in reduced quality of gathered evidence in case participants attempt to provide the answers that they believe the researcher wishes to receive. In other words, the opportunity to empower participants and provide them with some control is important. Email communication can be a good choice for a shy participant (Iacono et al., 2016), and the people who are comfortable with technology may also find its use during interviews convenient and engaging (Mason & Ide, 2014). In addition, according to Mason and Ide (2014), email interviews can make it easier for participants to quit participation if they are uncomfortable, which is a particularly important participant right.
Emails can be answered at any time. In other words, they are asynchronous, which further empowers the participants, makes this form of communication more convenient, and allows both the participant and researcher to think through their responses (Mason & Ide, 2014; Ratislavová & Ratislav, 2014). The latter factor is particularly important since it results in more structured and explicit responses, which affects the quality of the data in a positive way (Bowden &Galindo-Gonzalez, 2015; Ratislavová & Ratislav, 2014). Additionally, email interviews do not need transcription (Bowden & Galindo-Gonzalez, 2015), which reduces the possibility of transcription errors, as well as the time spent by the investigator on the process.
One of the major advantages of email communication is the possibility of maintaining confidentiality. Indeed, the participants will be recruited from the Facebook group and will contact the researcher with the help of their emails; the researcher will develop pseudonyms and will not provide any personal information (including emails) of the participants to anyone. As a result, the participation will be completely confidential since nobody from the group (as well as no people from other groups) will be able to learn who decided to take part in the research. Given the fact that the topic of gender inequality can be sensitive, it is an important factor (Mason & Ide, 2014; Ratislavová & Ratislav, 2014). Also, the confidentiality potential of the approach is greater than that of other Internet options (like Facebook or Skype), and it became the main argument which prompted the choice of the method.
However, it should also be noted that email interviews have their specifics, some of which can be described as barriers or limitations. The use of email interviews may be associated with difficulties in building rapport (Bowden & Galindo-Gonzalez, 2015), even though the accounts of online communication suggest that it does not have to be so (Iacono et al., 2016; Mason & Ide, 2014). One of the solutions noted by Iacono et al. (2016) consists of sending several emails specifically to build trust. Such emails can be used to establish the rules of communication, including, for instance, confidentiality concerns, the expected time of responses, the appropriate form of reminders, and so on (Mason & Ide, 2014). This way, the problem can be resolved.
Informed consent procedures are specific for email interviews, but this issue can be settled as well. A common approach consists of sending the informed consent form as an attachment so that it can be printed, signed, and sent back (Ratislavová & Ratislav, 2014). Also, email communication does not allow the researcher to note the changes in the participants’ behavior (Bowden & Galindo-Gonzalez, 2015). The lack of non-verbal cues, which can convey important information, increases the opportunity for miscommunication (Bowden & Galindo-Gonzalez, 2015). Ratislavová and Ratislav (2014) state that the questions, therefore, need to be noticeably clear and unambiguous, which means that this problem can also be resolved.
The confidentiality requirements and the distance can also be associated with a problem; it can be difficult to ensure that the interviewees respond only once without using another email address to participate again. Similarly, the participants might be able to lie about some of their experiences or demographics, and it will be impossible to check their honesty (Iacono et al., 2016). It is planned to discourage the participants from doing so; also, the researcher will inform them about the importance of being honest and providing the responses that reflect their experience.
In summary, there are some challenges related to the method, including rapport building, informed consent, and identity verification, but there are reliable solutions to them, which are described by the literature on the topic. At the same time, email interviews have major advantages, including convenience for everyone involved, empowerment of the participants, and confidentiality possibilities. Given that the study will recruit participants from a Facebook group, email interviews are particularly applicable. Therefore, the choice of the method is justified.
The research questions addressed in this study are:
- How do educational leaders perceive the issue of gender inequality in higher education settings?
- How do educational leaders perceive the challenges of gender inequality in higher education settings?
- What are educational leaders’ best practices to address gender inequality in higher education settings?
A population is a group of people who are going to participate in the study, answer questions, and provide a researcher with the necessary information (Singh, 2007). In this project, an academic population will be used. A very diverse Facebook group with over 12,000 users will be used as the pool for potential participants. This group is comprised of educators, administrators, and leaders who work in higher education facilities across the United States and either work or want to work online, which justifies the application of the email interviewing method to reach out to them. Regarding the topic of the study, the population should include both male and female participants who can share their experiences and knowledge about the existing challenges caused by gender inequality.
Other main characteristics of the population are the age of the participants (in universities, the age rates of employees vary from 28 to 55 or even older) and their occupation (the specific positions taken by them in the faculty or administration may vary). The age of the population is an integral factor because of the changes that have been observed in the system of education. For example, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964 influenced the positions of women in different academic fields. Educators, administrators, and leaders should understand the outcomes of such legislation and compare past and present working conditions.
Communication with the participants of both genders will be used to clarify the leading positions that may be available to women, the qualities that women must develop, and the relationships that have to be developed to promote effective leadership in different fields. Faculty members’ and administrators’ opinions are crucial for this study. Their knowledge, as well as personal experience, can discover some new aspects of the work in profit and non-profit organizations. The representatives of multiple universities or colleges can create a solid basis for the discussion of inequality female leaders may face in all higher educational facilities.
Sampling is the second step in research methodology in terms of which subjects should be selected from a population (Miller & Salkind, 2002). The goal of this stage is to understand which group of people is the most appropriate choice for the study and what interests and characteristics may play a crucial role. The goal of sampling is to achieve data saturation, which will enable the interview to fulfill its own aim: provide the participants with the opportunity to describe their lived experiences (Fusch& Ness, 2015). In other words, the sampling will attempt to reach a point at which new data will not be provided. It is planned to gather data from between 10 and 20 participants, but the data saturation and participation response can change the number.
Non-probability sampling will be used because probability approaches are not entirely feasible for a dissertation that will recruit its participants from a Facebook group. Therefore, the purposive approach is required in this work (Coe, Waring, Hedges, & Arthur, 2017). Regarding the specific types of sampling that are going to be used, the approach chosen for this research corresponds to the definitions of voluntary and quota sampling. They can be defined as follows.
The study will involve a post in the Facebook group with the information about the dissertation and invitation to contact the researcher. In other words, it will involve a call for volunteers, which is the definition of voluntary sampling (Remler&Ryzin, 2015). However, the researcher will not be able to invite every eligible participant because of the time- and resource-related constraints. Furthermore, it is planned to engage people from several specific characteristic groups. As a result, quotas will be used to make the sample diverse, which means that quota sampling will also be employed by the study (Remler&Ryzin, 2015). It is intended to include ten men and ten women, if possible, as well as at least five people aged 30-40, five people aged 40-50, and five people older than 50. Ethnicity is also of interest to the study, which is why people of different races and ethnicities will be recruited; in order to regulate this aspect of the sample, it is planned to recruit no more than 10 Non-Hispanic White people. This approach is defined as quota sampling (Creswell & Creswell, 2017), and it is going to be used to ensure that the sample of the study corresponds to its requirements.
It can also be mentioned that the use of a Facebook group that is dedicated to teaching can technically be viewed as a convenience sampling. Indeed, this approach presupposes employing a setting that is likely to include the representatives of the population of interest (Creswell & Creswell, 2017), and the named Facebook group fits this description. Furthermore, given the specifics of Facebook, the researcher will encourage the group members to share the post and, therefore, inform more people about the research. This approach is the definition of snowball sampling in online settings (Creswell & Creswell, 2017; Creswell & Poth, 2016). Since it is a good opportunity which is provided by the settings of the research (Facebook), it is going to be employed. However, it is not clear if this method will yield any results. As a result, the focus of this dissertation is on effectively incorporating voluntary and quota sampling methods.
In summary, the study will involve creating a recruitment post in a Facebook group that includes the people who would qualify for participation and encouraging the readers to spread the message while employing quotas to diversify the sample. This strategy is explained by the needs of the research and should provide it with a sample that will be able to produce the required information. The sample will be drawn from a higher education Facebook group titled Make a Living Teaching Online. It is necessary to describe the group since it can be viewed as the settings of the study. The group was created by the Babb Academy on September 25th, in 2009, and it is an active group which is currently run by the same organization. As of 2019, the group has just over 12,000 members who are online educators, although no extensive information about the demographics of the group has been provided. On average, ten posts appear in the group every day. The principal investigator is an active member of the group since January 17, 2018; the Facebook profile is used to participate in it.
The administrators and moderators are easily accessible; they were contacted to obtain the permission to use their group for a research recruitment post. The Babb Academy (n.d.) describes itself as an “education solution provider” (para. 1), and the group itself is dedicated to supporting online educators. Among other things, the posts are devoted to the events, changes, and issues of the industry, and the participants are encouraged to “share daily musings” and “ask questions” (para. 3). Job posts are also a part of the group. Overall, the group has many participants who are likely to be interested in the research and capable of providing the necessary information.
The main inclusion criterion will be the participants’ current occupation in higher education; the study will look for male and female employees who take different leadership positions in universities. The second major inclusion criterion is the working experience, which should be more than one year in the same facility. Furthermore, it is intended to limit the age of the potential participants to over 30 years. It is anticipated that people who are older than 30 are more likely to take up leadership positions and have some experience. All participants should be English-speaking people who can spend about one hour on communication. The final requirement will be the wish of the potential participants to talk about their professional and personal issues, working experience, and inequality problems if any occur in the workplace; only voluntary participation will be accepted.
People belonging to any race or ethnicity will be accepted; an attempt will be made to include the people of different races and ethnicities. Also, it is expected to work with the academic staff of different United States universities because of the specifics of recruitment (the usage of a Facebook group). Admittedly, the situation with gender equality can be different across the US and individual institutions, but the present research does not intend to focus on a specific state; rather, it attempts to review the problems with gender equality that manifest themselves in educational settings in general. The only exclusion criteria that may prevent participants from being engaged in the study are those that make them vulnerable (non-fluent English).
An email interview protocol is the instrument that will be used in the research (Olsen, 2012). The email interview questions serve as one of the main and most credible sources of information because of direct communication with people who are involved in the chosen field of work. It is a tool that was specifically developed for this research. The process of selecting questions was based on the topics identified in research questions; it also aims to cover the key themes of the research. The email interview protocol is directly based on the research questions. The first block focuses on the demographics to ensure that the participants have the expertise on the topic and to help diversify the sample. The second set of questions details the respondents’ experience with inequality, as well as its consequences, responding to the first and second research questions. The third and fourth sets are related to the third research question, which is concerned with best practices in the area.
The anticipated duration of online communication with the participants should not exceed an hour. It will involve one-on-one communication because this approach will allow gaining information about the personal experiences and perspectives of the participants, which is the aim of the study. Moreover, it will be easier to ensure the confidentiality of the participants in one-on-one communication. Finally, one-on-one communication will help the participants be more open about their ideas and experiences, and it will not allow the participants to influence each other’s responses. Therefore, the approach is justified.
Data Collection and Storage
According to the current information from Facebook Help Community (2014), it is possible to use Facebook for research solicitation, and the only direct requirements for such posts consist of abiding by the rules of Facebook and requesting the permission for the post from the administrators of the group. The permission from the Facebook Group has already been obtained. The following plan is proposed for the next steps in recruitment. The data collection procedures will start following approval from Trident University International (TUI).
First, the invitation to participate will be posted in the Facebook community group of interest. Second, the participants who will contact the researcher will be provided with detailed information about the research. The researcher will discuss standardized rules of communication with the participants who will agree to participate, specifying the deadline for responses and inquiring about the appropriate methods and timing of reminders. This step will help to establish rapport with the participants. After that, the participants will be provided with the email interview questions and instructions. Due to the specifics of the approach to interviewing, its settings can be described as online settings; specifically, emails will be used. Physically, the participants can be present anywhere, which is a major benefit of this approach to data collection. Additionally, the emails do not need to be transcribed; they will be collected as they are. If the participants take longer than planned to respond to the questions, a reminder will be sent to them once.
The analysis of the email interview data will be started immediately during its collection to track data saturation. It is planned to recruit about 20 participants, but the number can change depending on data saturation. In addition, it is planned to make the sample diverse; specifically, the study will involve both men and women, and an effort will be made to recruit people of different age to check if the situation with gender inequality has changed in their institutions over time. It would be helpful to investigate the intersections of gender-based discrimination and those pertaining to age or ethnicity as well.
Regarding the protection of the participants, the chosen methods are particularly helpful in this regard since they allow confidentiality. The addresses will not be disclosed by the researcher in any case, and only the researcher will get access to them during the study. No identifying information will be collected. If any potentially identifying information is mentioned by a participant, it will be removed by the investigator. The participants will be provided with an informed consent document; they will print it, sign, and send it back electronically. The need for the informed consent is explained by the fact that the study may involve some sensitive topics, which is why the participants should be informed about the minimal risks beforehand.
The data will be kept in a secure location, which is the principal investigator’s place. In particular, a password-protected computer will be used as a storage device. All the communication with the participants will be carried out with the help of the same computer. The participants’ names or email addresses will not be used; instead, each participant will be assigned a pseudonym, which will be randomly chosen and used to designate their responses. Also, a USB drive will have backup data, which will be kept in a safe at the principal investigator’s place. All the data will be destroyed (erased from all devices) after three years (as per the university policy) of storage.
Thematic analysis will be employed for the study, which implies the need for coding. The interviews will use emails, which is why no transcripts will be required. The steps for theme identification will be identical to the ones proposed by Clarke and Braun (2014). There are other approaches to the process as well, for instance, that by Vaismoradi, Jones, Turunen, and Snelgrove (2016). However, the methods are largely similar, and their main differences consist of the terms used. Overall, it will be necessary to become familiar with the data, start developing the codes, and search for themes. Themes then need to be reviewed and refined, and their eventual version should be established. The results of the analysis will be presented in the form of a table that will describe the themes and the frequency of their appearance.
For the time being, it is not planned to employ software; manual coding is intended to be used. As for validity, it will be ensured by triangulation (Cohen et al., 2017). The researcher will review the information from the Facebook group and the policies and training materials of the universities where participants work (where available), and their analysis will assist in contextualizing the data from the email interviews. Regarding the demographic data, they will be analyzed with the help of descriptive statistics; it is planned to use MS Excel since its capabilities are sufficient for the task. The results of this part of the analysis will be presented in the form of tables and graphs produced by MS Excel.
Trustworthiness and Credibility
Using the qualitative terms of “transferability, credibility, dependability, and confirmability,” which define a study’s trustworthiness (Given &Saumure, 2008, p. 896), the following analysis of the present project can be proposed. With respect to transferability, the study should only be applied to the US higher education; other countries or other levels of education will not be considered. This limitation will be explicitly stated in the results section, but it stems from the project’s aims, which is why it is not a problem; rather, it is a specific feature of the dissertation. Regarding credibility and confirmability, the accurate representation of the collected data and its appropriate interpretations will be ensured through triangulation. As for dependability, the study will present its methodology in detail, including the data collection tools. To summarize, the trustworthiness concerns were considered when developing this dissertation’s design.
The limitations of the dissertation are determined and justified by its methodology. First, the study will gather the personal perspectives of participants, which is why they are likely to be subjective and can reflect personal bias (Cohen et al., 2017). However, bias in research is generally difficult (if not impossible) to avoid (Walliman, 2018). Therefore, this issue is unavoidable, but it can be controlled. Also, it should be noted that the investigation of the instances of gender inequality, its consequences, and solutions to it needs to consider the personal experiences and perspectives of the people who are affected by it or witness it. Therefore, the introduction of personal, subjective views is required and can benefit this study, which will focus on the plurality of opinions.
Secondly, the sampling of the study can result in limitations. First, voluntary sampling can lead to the recruitment of the people with specific experiences and perspectives, which may result in self-selection bias (Callegaro et al., 2015). Similarly, the problem of non-coverage can be mentioned (Callegaro et al., 2015): the study will use online means of recruitment (a specific Facebook group), which automatically excludes the people who do not have Facebook accounts and the Internet access. These issues must be mentioned when presenting the results. The sample is also likely to be relatively small (20 people) (Walliman, 2018). However, the study does not intend to be generalizable; it plans to present varied opinions and aims to investigate the phenomenon of gender inequality and solutions to it. Also, the research will not target particular locations or institutions, which is why it is likely not to be representative of any of them. However, the investigation of particular locations or institutions is not the goal of the dissertation, which is why this limitation is not problematic.
Furthermore, the email interview method is noteworthy. The specifics of the approach make it difficult to verify the participants’ responses; also, it will not be possible to prevent them from participating twice. However, this potential issue is highly unlikely. The study will also prompt the participants to avoid dishonesty. The problems that are associated with email interviews are outweighed by their benefits; this method is particularly well-suited for the present research due to its sampling strategy (which uses a Facebook group). To summarize, many of this study’s limitations can be explained by the specifics of the dissertation, and the methods that are associated with them have multiple benefits and are suited for this research. The limitations will necessarily be considered when presenting the results.
The proposed study intends to investigate the issues related to gender inequality in higher education in the US and related solutions. It will use expert opinions and experiences; in particular, it will recruit educational leaders who work in the U.S. and engage them in email interviews. The chosen methods have some limitations, which will be considered, but they also have notable benefits, and they can respond to the required research questions.
The proposed investigation is significant because the goal of gender equality has not been achieved yet. Additionally, there is not much recent research on the topic of gender equality in higher education as related to leadership in the field. The primary goal of the study is to find the information about the solutions to the problem of gender inequality. Apart from providing important insights, the data will be used to develop training interventions for educational leaders.
Findings and Analysis
The data collection technique was applied as described in the methodology. The interview data from seven participants were considered reliable for the analysis and for the formulation of the conclusion. The findings section provides the details of the background information of the participants and their views on gender inequalities and their outcomes, diversity training and its effects, and other solutions to gender inequalities.
Background Information of the Participant
Five of the seven participants are females, while two were male. It therefore implies that female participants were 71%, while male counterparts were 29% (see figure 1 below).
Table 1: Ages of respondents
Racial/ethnic identity, Academic attainment, Position in the university, Years of services
The respondents were drawn from different racial and ethnic backgrounds including Caucasian white, White American, Black American, Hispanic, and African American. Six out of seven of the participants are PhD holders in different fields, and hold different positions where five are professors, and two assistance professors. The participants hold other positions such as been academic council member, deans of department, and other administrative roles. The data in this case is essential because it implies that the participants are likely to provide valuable information upon which the current research problem is to be addressed.
Table 2: Racial/ethnic identity, Academic attainment, Position in the university, Years of service
|Race/Ethnic Identity||Educational Certificates||Position in University||Years in The Position|
|Respondent 1||Caucasian white||PhD in Mathematics||Professor, Academic Council member||8|
|Respondent 2||Caucasian white||PhD in Political Science||Professor, Academic Council member||5|
|Respondent 3||White American||PhD in Psychology||Professor, Dean of the social sciences department||7|
|Respondent 4||Black American||Master of Business Administration||Assistant professor and Scientific Secretary||3|
|Respondent 5||Hispanic||PhD of Business Analytics||Assistant professor, with administrative issues||3|
|Respondent 6||American, white||PhD of Business Administration||Professor, Dean of a Department||3|
|Respondent 7||African American||PhD in International Business||professor, Dean of Social Sciences department||2|
Gender Inequalities and Their Outcomes
The research findings reveal that there is high prevalence of gender inequalities in the higher learning institutions. Participant 1 revealed that she has experienced gender-based discrimination. She rated that being a PhD in Mathematics she is treated differently by the male dominant colleagues who think that she is out of place. Despite been given the same workload and salary, it is not considered any merit that she is a member of the Council. Participant 2 revealed that she had not personally experienced gender-based discrimination. However, she revealed to have witnessed discrimination perpetrated towards female junior staff, which is sometimes grossly inappropriate treatment. For instance, male colleagues make obscene jokes in relation to female staff, particularly those at the lower ranks and positions. Participant 3 affirms that being a male, he has not experienced the discrimination, but has witnessed it being perpetrated against the female colleagues. Participant 4 stated that she has experienced gender-based discrimination all the years in her work. She states that despite been a council member and holding an MBA, other council members treat her like a girl-assistant. Participant 5 and 6 concur in stating that they have experienced the discrimination and feel that they have been treated with lower regard by the male colleagues. Participant 7 had a similar response as participant 3 stating that he has not experienced the discrimination but have witnessed it at their institutions.
The findings reveal that gender-based discrimination and inequalities have significant implications. Participant 1 identified deteriorating teamwork, corporate culture and the work environment in the university is adversely affected. Participant 2 reveals that the issue negatively affect the general culture at the university and educational performance of the students. It also denies the talented female staff their possibility of accomplishing their potential. Participant 3 brought about the issue of infringed human rights of women in academia, and hence denying them the opportunity to achieve their full potential. The other participants had similar views, which implies that gender inequality has a lot of negative implication to the victims and in the overall stakeholders including the students and staff in the higher learning institutions. Based on their experiences and knowledge of the prevalence of the problem, all the participants agreed that it is important that some interventions are put into place to address the problem.
Diversity Training and Its Effects
Diversity training was one of the highly focused areas in the study. The participants provided significant information on the adoption of diversity training and its effect in their institutions. Participant 1 strongly stated that she believes that “diversity awareness training is a reliable tool to assist in addressing the problem of gender inequalities in higher education institutions.” However, she stated that it is adopted in her institution. The participant suggests that awareness building programs and strategies such as gender-diversity team building practices and role playing should be adopted.
Participant 2 is also highly supportive to the use of diversity awareness training as a tool for addressing the problem. Again, she said that the strategy has not yet been adopted in her institution and hence the problem has not been widely discussed or key solutions developed. The suggestion from the participant is that diversity training should be adopted to ensure that the stakeholders elaborately explained the meaning of diversity in practice and its benefits. The training should also constitute of emphasis on the adverse effect of stereotypes against women to all and the higher learning institutions at large.
Participant 3 supports the implementation of training to create the awareness of the problem at hand. However, he brings in an angle of outsourcing external training to give the exercise the meaning and strength required. He also regrettably stated that the diversity awareness training has not been applied in the institution for the internal management and operations purpose. The only area in which it is covered is in the course in curriculum, covering diversity and human rights, as a requirement for the students.
Participant 4 also held the opinion that diversity awareness training is good idea to assist in awakening awareness of the existence and impact of the problem. She also acknowledges that the approach has not been adopted in the institution where she works and suggests that it was noble for such initiatives to be implemented. The participant recommends that the training should incorporate aspects such as real stories of female employees on their experiences, how they affect them, how they overcome, and suggestions on the way forward. She also suggests that in higher education institutions, the training should incorporate both the teaching and non-teaching staff include men and women.
Participant 5 applauds the use of awareness training starting that it would assist in creating awareness about the magnitude of the problem and how it can be addressed. Nevertheless, she reveals that the training is not applied in her institution. She recommends the inclusion of the historical background and facts ranging from the 19th century to the contemporary times.
Participant 6 also supports the adoption of the awareness training but suggests that it should be voluntary and more interactive rather than be in form of lectures.
Participant 7 mirrors the concerns to the Participant 6‘s insights and stated that the training should be purely picture-based, formal, and obligatory. However, the two (Participant 7 and Participant 6) also reveal that the training is not implemented in their institutions. They believe that an interactive training, with a lot of discussion and case studies on best practices are suggested as key aspect to be included in the awareness training.
Thus, as participants stated, higher educational institutions do not provide training for awareness about gender biases, while the need for such training is evident. Analyzing the response of Participant 1, it can be said that even in case of availability of this training in the institution, it is of purely formal nature and does not bring results.
Other Solutions to Gender Inequalities
Other than awareness training, there are other solutions, which can assist in addressing gender inequality. Participant 1 revealed that the aspect of gender inequality is “captured in the employment contract, but they only address the problem partially.” The gap in addressing the problem undermines the culture of engagement, diminish motivation, and leads to other serious harm to the human capital in the University. In her suggestion, Participant 1 calls for “creating cultures of diversity through the recognition of the value of diversity itself, and readiness for cultural transformational.” The management have been urged to strive for the creation and strengthening of a corporate culture that inspires existence and respect of gender differences.
Other participants also raised their concerns about the weakness into the efforts put in place in the effect to assist in addressing the problem. It emerges that women are given equal or even better chances during recruitment at the lower and middle level positions in the institutions. However, they face a lot of challenges in their work and particularly when pursuing career progression, which lead to the inequality. Participant 2 states that the “top management have a bigger role to play in the creation of the culture and environment for the respect to diversity, elimination of the gender inequality incidences.” Participant 5 states that there are enough materials including books, magazines, and reports among other materials that can be used to enlighten the University employees by enhancing personal and deep awareness about the problem. The implication of this is that it suggests for the use of evidence-based approach to address inequality in the institutions.
Participant 6 reveals that the quotas and affirmative actions have not assisted in addressing the underlying issues of gender inequality. Institutional heads are called upon to initiate open discussion, without hypocrisy and double standards to enhance awareness and development of appropriate solution at the institution level. Participant 7 states that the efforts put in place so far do not assist in any way to address the gender inequality in higher learning institutions. He suggested for the development and application of a well thought of talent management system.
Thus, as it is evident from respondents’ answers, the efforts of Universities concerning ensuring gender equality are definitely not enough. In addition to ‘double standards,’ there is formal approach to the matter, lack of leaders’ care on creating diversity environment. These phenomena harm human capital of the Universities and reduce performance. As participants emphasize, the top management should intensify their efforts and change their vector in addressing gender inequality issues.
The purpose of the study was to investigate the perspectives of current educational leaders, including administrators and faculty members, about gender inequality. The research in terms of collection and analysis of the data has been undertaken effectively and findings compiled. The research was effectively guided on the research objectives, including 1) How do educational leaders perceive the issue of gender inequality in higher education settings? 2) How do educational leaders perceive the challenges of gender inequality in higher education settings? and 3) what are educational leaders’ best practices to address gender inequality in higher education settings? The discussion in this case focus on the details on how the objectives have been realized.
Perception of Leaders on the Issue of Gender Inequality in Higher Education Settings
The research findings reveal that leaders in higher education settings are cognizant of the existence of gender inequalities in their institutions. The first insights are that women are given employment opportunities with better chances than the male counterparts. However, the issues of gender-based stereotypes and hindrances to rise into higher and leadership positions exists. It is also evident that the issues of sexual harassments, gender-based discrimination and undermining the role of women are rampant in the institutions. The female leaders, however revealed that most of the negative treatments are perpetrated against the women holding lower ranked positions.
The findings in this concurs with the insights drawn from the literature review. Barone & Assirelli (2020) revealed that gender-based segregation is highly evident in higher learning institutions. Due to the segregation, women continue to be treated as the weak gender and hence are in most cases offered courses and leadership in facilities considered to be of low regard. The ones who find their way into other programs such as STEM and ICT programs have not made it into high ranks in faculty leadership. It affirms the situation where about two of the participants in the research have attained the PhD in mathematics but have not reached to top leadership. Winslow & Davis (2016) states that despite the structural changes in higher learning institutions and qualifications that a significant number of women have attained, reinforcement of masculine work standards has led to gender inequality. Cruz (2020) and Henning et al. (2017) respective acknowledge the existence of sexual assaults and workplace harassment in higher education. It implies that women do not have a favorable working condition, which is one of the strongly raised concerns from the research participants.
Perception of Leaders on the Challenges of Gender Inequality in Higher Education Settings
The research findings revealed that the informatics engaged raised a range of challenges regarding gender inequalities. First, there is an agreement that the problem is not significantly recognized as the people are not given the chance to talk and discuss about it. The measures put in place such as quotas and affirmative actions in the recruitment gives the women the chance for employment but does not address the concern of gender-based segregations, harassments, and sexual assaults. It is also evident that there is lack of awareness training to enlighten the staff including men and women, both in leadership/management/administrators and subordinate levels about the problem and its impact. The findings reveal that the gender inequalities reduce work productivity, undermines the morale of the victims, and hinders the realization of their full potential.
Barone & Assirelli (2020) states that gender inequality in higher education spill over into other sectors of the economy, hence intensifying the magnitude of the problem. Szewczok & Parslow (2018) reveal that the suppression of women with the potential to rise into leadership leads to lack of mentorships and hence the young girls and women in first years in their career do not get the motivation to excel. Henning et al. (2017) acknowledges experiencing and witnessing gender inequalities particularly workplace harassments affect productivity and health effects to the victims, perpetrators, and the witnesses.
Recommendations by Educational Leaders on Best Practices to Address Gender Inequality in Higher Education Settings
The education leaders represented by the informatics in the study revealed that there are several practices to address gender inequality in higher education setting. Diversity training is prominently considered as one of the strong practices to assist in addressing or reducing the incidences. The strategy should however be implemented strategically for the intended awareness to be created and trickled down into practice. The training undertaken by external experts is highly recommended particularly in the institutions where the topic leadership is highly affected. Open based approach where even the lower ranked would have a chance to make inquiries and raise their concerns is also highly advocated. It implies that the training should go beyond the lecture approach would assist in enhancing awareness better. Use of case study discussion where practices adopted by best performing higher learning institutions are used as example is also identified from the findings. The creating culture of diversity is also highly advocated. The leadership in the higher learning institutions are recommended to take up the responsibility to ensure that there is recognition of the value of diversity itself, and readiness for cultural transformational.
Buitendijk, Curry and Maes (2019) agree with the insight stating that the problem of gender inequality can be addressed through enhancement of the culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Timmers, Willemsen &Tijdens (2010) recommend for the formal communication of the existing gender inequality issues and the strategies put in place to address them. The communication in this is an equivalent to the formal training recommended by the research participants. The participants recommended for the creating culture of diversity by the leadership and management. The perspective is highly supported by Peterson (2011) who advocates that the management/leadership in higher learning institutions should come up with formal gender mix policy. The informatics recommended that the institutions should upheld a well-thought talent management system. Similarly, Benschop and van Brink (2014) call for the revaluation of existing programs to identify unconscious gender biases and dropping off the intervention that are redundant.
The study was based on three assumptions. First, it is assumed that the individuals involved have the familiarity and experience to the issue of gender inequality and hence would provide the reliable data and information. Secondly, it is assumed that the research questions were relevant to the research problem and that the respondents were able to respond effectively and honesty. The other assumption is that the respondents involved would be adequately be the representation of the true state of the research problem. In other words, it is an assumption that the sampling technique and the sample size used would adequately be relied upon in the realization of the target objectives.
Implications for Future Research
The research findings reveal that the education leaders in higher learning institutions are aware of the existence and the magnitude of the problem of gender inequality. It is also evident that they are aware of the weaknesses and loopholes of the in the efforts and strategies put in place to address the issue. Suggestions are also made on the best practices that the leaders feel would assist in addressing the problem better. Moving forward, researchers should try to consolidate on the findings and provide the insights on how the suggested practices can be applied in the learning institutions. For instance, researchers would investigate the practices adopted by institutions considered to doing well in terms of gender equality, inclusivity and in support of diversity. The studies in this case could adopt comparative approach or the case studies.
In recap, the study to investigate the perspectives of current educational leaders, including administrators and faculty members, about gender inequality. The data was collected, analyzed and the research findings compiled. The discussion reveals that the various institutions are aware or have witnessed or suffered as a result of gender inequalities. Issues of gender segregation, sex assault, discrimination, and workplace harassments have been raised substantially. strategies deemed suitable in addressing the problem include awareness training, policy for upholding gender equality, intensified mentorships, and inclusivity in all levels in the learning institutions. It is also recommended that in the future, researchers should focus on the development in uncovering how the best practices can be applied in the institutions, the use of case study and comparative approach can assist address the issue.
Application to the field
The research findings on the perception of educational leaders on gender inequality reveal that the problem remains relatively rampant despite the legal and policy frameworks developed over the years. The efforts to address the problem date back to the 1830s and 1840s, when a large number of women showed the interest of joining higher education. Legal frameworks including Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Education Amendments of 1972, particularly prohibits any form of gender inequality and discrimination in education sector in the USA. Despite the existence of the law, the problem has not been eliminated due to various factors. The prominent aspect in this case is the lack of awareness about the implication of the gender-based inequality, and the strategies to adopt to realize the best practices. Therefore, gender inequality in academia remains widespread, and the lack of awareness of the impact of the scourge undermines efforts towards addressing it. Most stakeholders have not understood how gender discrimination in academic settings affects general outcomes. Discrimination is considered a nonissue, yet it has far-reaching ramifications. Laws and regulations guaranteeing the equality of sexes in academia have not been effective in guaranteeing a level-playing field (Liu, Macgill& Vora, 2016). Perhaps a change in perception across institutions of higher learning will facilitate the development of gender equality. However, such an important dimension cannot be left to chance and efforts must be developed and implemented to guarantee gender equality in academia. Training offers a myriad of opportunities for the development of a discrimination-free environment in academia across the United States.
Purpose of Training
Implementation of efforts, policy and legal provisions intended to address gender inequality in higher learning is highly dependent on the leadership in the higher learning institution. The purpose of the training is therefore to assist in enlightening of the leaders on the various aspects about the problem and the possible strategies for optimal outcomes in eliminating the problem. Leadership plays an important role in influencing the process and practices of academic institutions, and targeting leaders offers a good opportunity for attaining gender equality in academia. The training of leaders is aimed at increasing their awareness and knowledge of matters of gender equality.
The training will aim at making leaders understand the impact of gender inequality in academic institutions. Once leaders have been made aware of the significance of gender equality, it will be easier to develop and implement measures to boost gender equality in the institutions (Liu, Macgill& Vora, 2016). The effectiveness of existing measures for gender equality is based on the ability of leaders to appreciate the significance of gender parity in academia. Therefore, the training specifically targets leaders due to the actuality that leaders play an important role in facilitating the development and implementation of policies in gender equality. Laws and regulations do not just involve stipulations on what is right and wrong but also the acceptable and recommended standards in institutions. Leaders have the opportunity to effectively articulate and implement these policies and laws towards gender parity.
Format of Training
The training to the leaders and managers in various positions in higher learning will be provided with four tips on pertinent concepts, the legal provisions, and the challenges of gender inequality. After the background enlightenment, the training will offer insights on practical strategies to assist in addressing the issue of gender inequality in the higher learning institutions. The tips underpin the various dimension of gender inequality in institutions of higher learning and how leaders can contribute to changing this trend. Leaders and managers at various levels will be required to comprehend the challenge of gender inequality in institutions of higher learning (Liu, Macgill& Vora, 2016). This will be aimed at ensuring that they are acquainted with the situation and problem. The training program will subsequently focus on how leaders can contribute to addressing this problem.
Tip 1: Definition and the Legal Background of Gender Inequality
Gender inequality in higher education is a situation where a given gender either male or female is not given equal opportunity to access education, employment, or promotion to higher ranks. The legal frameworks that are prominently relevant to this issue include Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Education Amendments of 1972. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides for the right to education and opportunities without discrimination on the basis on gender, race, religions, or any other underlying background issues (Hayter, 2018). Education Amendments of 1972 specifically prohibit any form discrimination in education institutions on the basis of sex (Liu, Macgill& Vora, 2016). The law therefore provides that no gender should be discriminated against in any form including the access to education or in the workplace in the learning institutions. Gender equality is a right in the United States and no institution or individuals should deny the enjoyment of this freedom. This implies that every leader and manager within institutions of higher education must work towards guaranteeing gender equality within the ranks of the university (Hayter, 2018). There are several laws and policies governing gender equality in every aspect, including institutions of higher learning.
Tip 2: The Forms of Gender Inequality in Higher Learning Institution
It is important to have the insight on the forms in which gender inequality can be exhibited in higher learning institutions. First, inequality arises when individuals in either gender are disadvantaged and are unable to achieve their potentials in education and career in the higher learning institutions. Secondly, gender inequality may arise in cases of biasness and discrimination among individuals on the basis of whether they are male or female. Thirdly, workplace harassments and sexual assaults perpetrated large to women in low ranks in the institutions is also one of the forms to which the inequality can be manifested. The three forms underpin ways through which gender inequality manifests in institutions of higher learning, and efforts of curbing rampant inequality should be based on them. For instance, the inability of women to attaining their educational and career aspirations in American institution of higher learning is notable and regrettable. Rampant sexism has made it difficult for women to thrive in these areas, and leaders must address institutional and cultural aspects of gender inequality. Biasness among faculty and students based on gender is rampant and leads to discrimination from people from one gender (Liu,Macgill& Vora, 2016). This is a cultural problem that needs to be addressed by creating awareness and implementing systems that entrench equality. Sexual assaults and harassment of women in lower ranks in unethical and should not be permitted in academia. Leaders must take the role of ensuring that such cases are reported and acted upon legally as well as prevent the culture of sexual harassment.
Tip 3: The Negative Effect of Gender Inequality
Leadership in higher learning institutions need to be aware of the negative effects of gender inequalities to entice them to take the necessary steps to eliminate the issues in their institutions. Research reveals that it led to negative effects on workplace productivity, hence affecting the overall performance of the firms. Secondly it disrupts the career plans of the affected individuals, hence undermining their chances of achieving their potentials. The other effect is that it can lead to mental health issues due to the frustrations and disruptions of their career progress plans. Furthermore, the incidences of discrimination can be exposed to the general public, which can lead to the decline in the ranking and reputation of the institution affected. By exposing leaders to the negative effects of gender inequality, it is expected that leaders will be motivated to take the necessary measure to get rid of this menace in academia, gender inequality is not just illegal or unethical, and it is also bad for an organization, its employee, stakeholders, and prospects. When women are exposed to inequality, harassment, and assault, they become demoralized and may not put their efforts into the organization (Liu,Macgill& Vora, 2016). Secondly, women may avoid working for institutions that do not guarantee their safety and equal status. This implies that organizations may lose the services of women due to poor policies of gender inequality. In education, women may not enroll in institutions, where gender inequality is rampant, and this may lead to reduced enrolment rates. Gender inequality undermines the reputation of institutions of higher learning, which has a negative effect on its prospects.
Tip 4: Identifying the Need and Benefits of Upholding Gender Equality
The negative effect of the gender inequality as identified should be the compelling reason for the leadership in higher learning institutions to invest in strategies to address the underlying issues. Based on the negative impact of gender inequality in academia, there is a need and impetus to develop measures to address them. This need is reinforced by the benefits of eradicating gender inequality in these institutions. Therefore, it is important to make leaders understand both the need for addressing this problem and the benefits of doing so. This will help them develop the convictions to embark on the processes of addressing this problem. The first benefit of addressing the gender inequality is that the institutions would realize synergy arising from the involvement of both genders in all levels of the faculties and management. Institutions of higher learning should deal with the gender inequality problem to benefits from increased synergies between members of both genders (Liu,Macgill& Vora, 2016). It is important to realize that gender inequality hinders the engagement of but men and women in both career and educational programs in universities. By guaranteeing equality, these institutions will attract talent for all genders. Secondly, upholding gender equality would imply that the institution is observing the provisions of the de Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Education Amendments of 1972 or any other law in that respect (Liu,Macgill& Vora, 2016). Compliance is an important dimension in academia because colleges and universities must adhere to the rules and laws governing gender relations. Since many laws prohibit discrimination based on gender, there must be efforts to address inequality to comply with these provisions. The other benefit is that the reputation and ranking of higher institutions upholding gender equality is likely to attain high raking and positive reputation. Universities and colleges across the United States endeavor to develop a good reputation and ranking, which increases their prospects. Tackling gender inequality offers an opportunity for these institutions to improve their reputation and rankings.
Practical Strategy One: Play a Role of Leadership by Lay down Steppingstones towards Equality
Institutional leaders have the higher responsibility to use their influence and powers accorded by the offices to ensure that gender equality expectations are realized. First, as a leader, it is important to lead others in recognizing existence and potential bias in the in the institution as the first step towards finding of the solutions (Buitendijk, Curry &Maes, 2019). A leader can undertake research and system review to use that the recognition of the problem is based on evidence. Furthermore, a leader is required to collaborate with internal stakeholder and partner with external parties in training the staff. Here, the training should involve both managerial and operational levels on the issues of gender inequality and development of strategies to address the problem. Taking the initiatives to investigate the prevalence of gender inequality within institutions of higher learning will help leaders come to terms with the existence of the problem. Leaders should conduct research and assess the level of gender inequality within their institutions (Buitendijk, Curry &Maes, 2019). This will mark the beginning of launching measures to address the problem. Acknowledge prevalence and extent of effect gender inequality in institutions will contribute to success in this undertaking.
Practical Strategy Two: Scaling Up Change by Leading by Example and Collaborate
With the recognition of the existence of the problem and the training on the forms and magnitude would be a compelling reason for the scaling up of change to address the problem. The leadership should lead by example by ensuring that issue of inequality at the leadership and management levels are addressed or strategies to address them are outlines. Collaboration in this case is a key requirement, leadership is required for all the stakeholders to be brought on board and play their respective roles for optimal outcomes (Buitendijk, Curry &Maes, 2019). Leaders must provide the rights example regarding gender equality because other people in these institutions observe what they do. Therefore, leaders and managers in academia must lead from the front by practicing implementing gender equality since it provides the necessary impetus for the eradication of discrimination (Buitendijk, Curry &Maes, 2019). Leaders must not tolerate any kind of discrimination based on gender as a way of creating a precedent for guaranteeing gender parity.
Practical Strategy Three: Upholding Gender Mix and Inclusivity Policy
It is evident that over the years women with the capability to rise into the leadership positions are not given equal opportunities. The systems and policies held in the institutions lead to inequalities where almost all leadership, management and administrative positions are held by men (Peterson, 2011). Upholding gender mix and inclusivity policy where both men and women are included in positions, groups and teams in proportions that demonstrate equality. Leadership is the epicenter of behavior and attitude change in organizations because it sets the precedence for any new or budding policies. The best way to entrench gender equality in institutions of higher learning is to ensure that both men and women are given equal access to leadership positions. Once members of these institutions see gender balance in leadership, they will automatically follow suit (Peterson, 2011).
Engaging women in leadership processes like decision-making increases the chances of developing policies that entrench gender equality. It is therefore important to a leader to have the data on the current composition of the positions in terms of percentage of men and women. Subsequently, the adoption of gender and inclusivity policy should have specific targets and timelines (Peterson, 2011). For instance, in an institution with a composition of 10% women and 90% men in leadership, the target of the policy could be to have 30% women and 70% men in leadership within the next 5 years. Any chances arising would therefore be offered on merit to women for the target to be achieved. There must be efforts to increase the number of women in leaders and decision-making positions as a way of dealing with gender inequality. If women are discriminated in leadership positions, the same discrimination will be spread to other areas of the institutions, making any efforts towards dealing with this problem counterproductive (Peterson, 2011). Institutions must reform leadership and policy-making functions by integrating more women as a starting point for gender equality.
Practical Strategy Four: Constitute an Independent Complaints Committee on Gender Inequality and Inclusivity Issues
Some of the gender-based inequality issues such as sexual assault and workplace harassment are traumatizing and hence are not easily raised by the victims. The setting up of independent and trustworthy complaint committee by the institutional Leadership would be a key step in address the problem (UNESCO, 2010). The committee should not only be independent but also should be seen to deliver justice and be relied upon in maintaining the confidentiality of victims and issues raised. The composition should be based on dynamic in the institution and the people should interrogate the proposed members before their approval.
Setting up a complaints committee will serve both practical and symbolic purposes in guaranteeing gender equality in institutions of higher learning. Practically, this commission will receive reports about the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault by women hence helping understand the prevalence of the scourge as well as taking the necessary steps to help victims. Such reports will also be used to create long-term solutions for sexual harassment. Therefore, the commission will play a direct role in identifying cases of inequality as well as developing solutions (UNESCO, 2010).
Symbolically, setting up a complaints commission will help send a strong message that no cases of gender inequality will be tolerated. People will be more careful when they know that cases of gender discrimination will be reported, and this could lead to behavior change. This implies that universities and colleges across the United States should set up complaints commission on gender issues to help develop mechanisms of addressing cases of gender inequality and harassment.
Practical Strategy Five: The Leadership Should Unceasingly Work on a Dynamic Checklist on the Issue
The issue of gender inequality is dynamic, while the implementation of the strategies to address the issues may not be viable all the time or at all Universities. Apart from setting clear targets and timelines for the strategies selected, it is immensely essential for the leadership to monitor their implementations, existing gaps and changes arising in the practice. Continuously, it would be possible to determine whether the dynamics in academia and the world at large are in favor or counter to the strategies adopted (UNESCO, 2010). It would therefore ensure that the efforts to address the gender inequality issues always remain as effective and relevant as possible.
In recap, it is evident that leaders in various positions in academia in higher learning institutions are aware of the problem of gender inequalities in their workplaces. The leaders have a high responsibility to assist their institutions in addressing the underlying issues. The training to the individuals in leadership positions, provide the insights enlightening them about the problem and its magnitude. The tips covered include definition and the legal background of gender inequality; forms of gender inequality in higher learning institution; negative effect of gender inequality and the need and benefits of upholding gender equality. The tips bring to the attention and perspectives of the problem to the leaders, hence triggering the desire to take the necessary actions. Subsequently, the training provides five of the strategies/approaches that a leader can adopt to assist in addressing the issues. The suggestions can be applied collectively or separately depending on the existing situation in the given institution.
It should be noted especially, that the current situation with COVID-19 may influence the willingness of participants to take part in research. However, while online communication between members of academic community intensified during pandemic, there is no fac-to-face communication with colleagues, and issues of gender inequality in labor market and at the workplace can become much more latent and levigated. Thus, it can distort the results to some extent.
Economists are now discussing two main channels that can influence gender inequality. The first one is through the different risks of losing jobs and wages for women and men due to the disproportionate impact of the epidemic and quarantine on sectors with different employment rates for women and men (Schnackenberg & Simard, 2018). The direction of this effect is not easy to be predicted. On the one hand, today’s crisis differs from ordinary recessions in that the service sector is suffering more than usual, while education can be also referred to this sector. Third, women tend to do more unpaid domestic work than men – more precisely, about 2.7 hours more per day – and it concerns not only low strata of society but also “white collar” professions such as university teachers and professors. Quarantine restrictions such as school closures and care for vulnerable elderly parents bear the brunt of household chores. With the lifting of quarantine restrictions, women are slower to return to full employment.
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