Discover how the University is redressing women's under-representation in senior positions.

The University of Auckland is committed to redressing women’s underrepresentation, especially in senior positions.

Factors such as family responsibilities; part-time, temporary and casual employment; gender bias; and wider societal influences can pose barriers to women (and to men) in employment.

The following policies, initiatives, references and projects are intended to enhance the University’s work environment and ensure talented staff can succeed here.

Women and Covid-19 - recent articles and webinars of interest

Covid-19 lockdowns are likely to be impacting women’s research at the University of Auckland, in line with reports from overseas. International reports show a downturn in articles sole-authored or led by women submitted to academic journals, as well as severely impacted productivity of women researchers in lockdowns. 

Grattan Institute Women’s work: Impact of the Covid recession on Australian women. March 2021.

How COVID is widening the academic gender divide. The Conversation. October, 2020.

The carelessness of entrepreneurial universities in a world risk society: a feminist reflection on the impact of Covid-19 in Australia. July 2020, Jill Blackmore.

Caring during COVID‐19: A gendered analysis of Australian university responses to managing remote working and caring responsibilities. Meredith Nash, Brendan Churchill. July 2020.

Meta-Research: COVID-19 medical papers have fewer women first authors than expected. E-Life, 15 June 2020.

Women bearing brunt of Covid-19 job losses - "It's not just women, it's women over the age of 50, Māori and Pasifika women, and we need to take those lenses into our specific Government policy and support to make sure that people are supported during this time,” Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter. Stuff 9 August 2020.

Challenges for the female academic during the COVID-19 pandemic – Lancet, Published online 18 June 2020. 

Academia needs new solutions to ensure gender equity. PNAS July 7, 2020 117 (27) 15378-15381.

Pandemic lockdown holding back female academics. Times Higher Education. June 2020.

Impact of Covid-19 on Women in STEM. Australian Academy of Science, May 2020.

Are women publishing less during the pandemic? Here’s what the data say. Early analyses suggest that female academics are posting fewer preprints and starting fewer research projects than their male peers. Nature, News, 20 May 2020.

Coronavirus has sparked a work from home revolution, but is it a backward step for gender equality? Call for "radical flexibility". ABC News, 6 April 2020.

As the Government moves to invest in physical infrastructure post lockdown, Professor Jennifer Curtin, Dr Suzy Morrissey and Sarah Bickerton of the University of Auckland argue for investment in social infrastructure, too. See What the Budget Means for Women – Newsroom, 15 May 2020.

Webinar: Gender Impact Analysis Policy forum: Women workers and Covid-19 in Aotearoa - Public Policy Institute, University of Auckland.

Covid, care and wellbeing - what do we really value - a webinar produced by the Women's Economic Network Australia, featuring Dr Suzy Morrissey, Public Policy Institute, University of Auckland.

The pandemic and academic women “The next person who tweets about how productive Isaac Newton was while working from home gets my three-year-old posted to them!” Nature 17 April 2020 

COVID-19 has laid bare how much we value women’s work, and how little we pay for it  - The Conversation 21 April 2020 

The impact of Covid-19 on gender equality - NBER working paper series, April 2020.

How mothers working from home are negotiating what’s normal. Harvard Business Review October 2020

What managers can do to help working mothers - Forbes. August 2020

Global regressive effective on gender equality - McKinsey & Company, July 2020

Why Working From Home Isn’t Necessarily Good for Women – HBR, July 16, 2020

How Covid-19 is changing womens lives - BBC Worklife, July 2020.

Crisis putting companies at risk of losing female talent - HBR, May 2020

Recruitment and appointment

Resources are available to assist managers and academic heads ensure fair and equitable employment processes. See Equity in recruitment, selection and appointment.

Unconscious bias

Resources and training on unconscious and implicit bias is available through Career Tools, facilitated by the Staff Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team in Human Resources. 

The Royal Society has provided an animation and briefing on unconscious bias. This introduces key concepts and current academic research with the aim of alerting selection pannels to potential biases when making decisions.

Shelley Correll, a professor of sociology at Stanford University, director of the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, discusses how stereotypes act as a shortcut in information processing and suggests solutions in this 20-minute video Creating a level playing field.

Cubist crystal a blog by Professor Jennifer L Martin, (Director of the Eskitis Drug Discovery Institute Griffith University, NHMRC Fellow, and former ARC Australian Laureate Fellow). Her blog advocates for equal opportunity and addressing gender imbalance in academia, especially in Science. See Cubist Crystal

Notable blog articles on Cubist Crystal:

Part-time, temporary and casual employment

Women’s participation as part-time, temporary and casual employees can enable them to balance work and family responsibilities. However, such roles are sometimes considered 'precarious' employment positions and can inhibit career development. Recruitment processes need to be monitored to ensure that women are not disproportionately represented in casual and fixed-term positions.

Managers and academic heads are encouraged to enable equitable workplace participation by part-time, temporary and casual staff when setting meeting times, preparing timetables and selecting representatives for committees. Relevant policies include:

Bullying, harassment and abuse

The University is committed to a safe, inclusive and equitable work and study environment. Research indicates that bullying harassment and abuse can be a barrier to women's participation and success. The University has policies, procedures, initiatives and training to address these issues. These include:

Monitoring and reporting

Promotions and academic employment processes across the University are monitored to ensure staff are treated fairly and equitably. Union representatives monitor the professional staff salary review process. Relevant policies and guidelines include:

Annual reporting on women’s representation across the University is provided in the University of Auckland Equity Profile.

Documents that laid the foundation to modern equity for academic women

The Report on the Status of Academic Women  was published in 1986. Known as The Wilson Report after its author Margaret Wilson, the document examined the status of academic women in New Zealand Universities and provided suggestions to prevent “discriminatory practices”.

This was followed by the Report of the Committee Established to Review the Position of Academic Women on Staff at the University of Auckland, known as The Gibbs Report, after Council member Jennifer Gibb. The Gibbs report focused on implementing the Wilson Report and provided recommendations to achieve more equal representation and participation of women academic staff at the University of Auckland.

This work coincided with the State Sector Act 1988 that created “good employer” obligations and required an “equal opportunities programme”. Since 2003, this has been renamed the Equity programme at the University of Auckland.


Women in STEMM

There has been a longstanding underrepresentation of women academics and students in Engineering and certain Science subjects such as Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics. Women are also underrepresented in the Schools of Medicine and Medical Health Sciences.

Studies here and within other universities indicate the following factors can help increase the representation of women in STEMM:

  • Provision of career path mentoring, sponsorship and/or training of junior women academics in STEMM
  • Encouraging women researchers, postgraduates and graduate teaching assistants to consider academic careers in Engineering and Science
  • Addressing the impact of culture and attitudes as well as structural barriers within faculties
  • Increase diversity of decision making in committee's representation
  • Ensure recruitment processes are free of any gender bias and that suitable women are actively sought and encouraged to apply
  • Various faculty-based projects such as women’s networks and the Science Faculty Gender Platform are available for support.

Seminars have been provided to raise awareness barriers to women in STEMM such as Professor Jennifer Martin’s presentations.

Women in senior positions

Underrepresentation of women in senior academic positions is a worldwide challenge. The increasing numbers of women studying at university have not been matched by increases of women in senior positions.

The University recognises the benefits of increased numbers of senior staff who are women.

The Women in Leadership Programme provides opportunities for academic and professional staff women who want to pursue career development and develop leadership capabilities. A Senior Women's Leadership Network is available for senior women employees.  The University also supports attendance at NZ Women in Leadership Programme 2016 for academic and professional staff.

Promotions workshops

These are held in May and June for women who have been past participants in the Women and Leadership programme and are considering promotion to Associate Professor and Professor. 

Increasing equity in governance and leadership

Women, Maori and Pacific are currently under-represented in governance and leadership roles in New Zealand which has negative impacts for members of these groups and for the governing bodies.

Board and other professional leadership opportunities enhance networking and skill development.

To learn more about how to participate in these bodies, go to Increasing equity representation in governance and leadership.

Strategies to address gender inequities

Below is a list of possible objectives, which faculties or divisions could include in their strategic plans to address gender inequities.