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Mind the gap: Gender disparities still to be addressed in UK higher education geography

Maddrell, Avril; Strauss, Kendra; Thomas, Nicola J.; Wyse, Stephanie


Avril Maddrell

Kendra Strauss

Nicola J. Thomas

Stephanie Wyse


© 2015 Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers). This paper evidences persistent gender inequalities in UK higher education (HE) geography departments. The two key sources of data used are: Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data for staff and students, which affords a longitudinal response to earlier surveys by McDowell and McDowell and Peake of women in UK university geography departments, and a qualitative survey of the UK HE geography community undertaken in 2010 that sought more roundly to capture respondent reflections on their careers, choices, status and experiences. Findings show that although the gender gap is closing within HE geography in the UK there are significant ongoing gender disparities. Therefore, the paper argues that the long and demanding process of reducing gender inequalities (alongside other, equally vital intersectional inequalities) requires continued commitment. Furthermore, respondents evidence the cost of these inequalities: enablers and barriers to job security and career progression can have long-term impacts on quality of life and financial security, and affect personal life decisions. In recent years the UK-based Athena Swan and Gender Equality Charter Mark agendas have prompted universities to address gendered disparities and the authors note a changing zeitgeist. The survey findings point to the need for sustained leadership within geography departments to address the day-to-day gender-and other-inequalities experienced in the workplace.


Maddrell, A., Strauss, K., Thomas, N. J., & Wyse, S. (2016). Mind the gap: Gender disparities still to be addressed in UK higher education geography. Area, 48(1), 48-56.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 6, 2015
Online Publication Date Sep 29, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2016
Deposit Date Aug 14, 2019
Journal Area
Print ISSN 0004-0894
Electronic ISSN 1475-4762
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 48
Issue 1
Pages 48-56
Public URL
Publisher URL