University of Hertfordshire highlighted as bucking the “leaky pipeline” trend with high number of female professors

 8 March 2024 8 March 2024
8 March 2024

Times Higher Education highlighted Herts' impressive number of professorships and senior academic positions held by women.

A Times Higher Education article, published this week, has highlighted the University of Hertfordshire’s impressive number of professorships and senior academic positions held by women. Half of Herts professors are women and in the last five years, female staff applications for Associate Professorships have increased by 43.8%.

The article highlights that many other universities are still demonstrating a historical lag in decreasing gender gaps, with latest Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data comparing the numbers of professor, other senior academic (heads of dept etc), and other contract level (non-professor academics) by gender often still showing a disproportionate representation of women in lower graded roles compared to men in senior academic roles.

However, the University of Hertfordshire ranked third in the country for having the smallest gap.

Professor Wendy Wills, Hertfordshire’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, said “At Hertfordshire, half of all professors are female. While we of course are delighted to be one of the top institutions bucking the ‘leaky pipeline’ trend in academia – as the phenomenon of women advancing along the academic career ladder at lower rates than men has been dubbed – we are also keen to simply normalise gender equality within higher education, and get to a point where one day this isn’t a remarkable stat”.

“What it does show is that the hard work going on behind the scenes to tackle issues such as the gender pay gap and wider systemic barriers to career progression of female colleagues are working at Herts. I’m generalising here, but I do think post-92 institutions are more innovative in this area because we listen, are more nimble to adapt and adopt new policies, and are groundbreaking in the initiatives that we establish to combat inequality.”

The University’s success shown in the HESA data has been achieved in a number of progressive ways. This ranges from specialist coaching and workshops to support the promotion of women in higher education, to inspire women to apply; implementing more transparency around promotion processes; excellent flexible and hybrid working policies and an increase in dedicated networks and groups providing targeted support across a range of subjects such as parenting, caring responsibilities, living with disability and menopause.

“It’s fitting, on International Women’s Day, to highlight what we are doing effectively in terms of gender equality and to celebrate our inspiring women professors at Herts,” reports Professor Wills.  

“However, we won’t rest on our laurels. We recognise there is more work to do – especially in ensuring we are reaching groups who continue to be underrepresented in promotion to senior levels, and further diversifying female promotions across disciplines and areas of university activity. I can assure everyone at Herts, there is lots going on behind the scenes to address these issues.”


Press Office +44 (0)1707 285 770