In today’s highlights of equality and diversity news: report on discrimination against BME academics in UK universities, rise in UCAS applications from black students but black men still most likely to be unemployed, private school students monopolising top universities, and 1 in 4 working mothers believe they have been subject to discrimination.
A qualitative report produced by Kalwant Bhopal, University of Southampton, contends that discrimination against and exclusion of ethnic minorities in universities is still very much prevalent. According to the report, BME academics felt that they had to work harder than their white colleagues to receive the same kind of recognition. Bhopal said, “I don’t think things have changed very much in the academy from 10 or 20 years ago.” Deborah Gabriel, who set up the online network Black British Academics, shares the sentiment, “The reality is that marginalisation, exclusion, lower pay and lower job prospects are common experiences for black academics.” According to HESA 2010/2011 statistics, only 70 of the 17,465 professors in the UK were of African/Caribbean descent.
Interestingly, in related news last week, UCAS reported a rise in applications from BME students, with application rates for black 18 year old students increasing to 34% from 20% in 2006. An article on the Operation Black Vote blog breaks this down to infer what this rise in applications actually means for BME students. BME graduates still need to make twice as many applications as white graduates to get an interview and black men are still most likely to be unemployed. Another issue is the universities BME students may attend – 1 in 4 of all students at University of East London (which has more black students than all the Russell Group universities combined) are likely to be unemployed in the long term, where the figure drops to 1 in 20 for Oxbridge.
Some of these issues are also highlighted in the report from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills which revealed that private school pupils are monopolising Britain’s leading universities. According to figures for 2010/11, 64% of students from independent schools went to top Russell Group universities, compared with 24% from state schools. The report also added that the gap between the progression of students from independent and state schools has been widening over the last 5 years. Universities are planning to spend more than £700 million by 2017/18 on widening participation measures.
According to a recent survey, 1 in 4 mothers who have returned to work believe they have been subject to discrimination either before or after the birth of their children. Nearly half of all the mums surveyed felt that having children had halted their career progression. Being overlooked for promotion or seeing junior employees progress faster up the career ladder were common complaints. Kiran Daurka, a lawyer at Slater & Gordon which conducted the survey, said: “Despite the equality legislation in place, attitudes and working practices continue to block women in achieving their career aspirations in the UK.” This survey follows closely on the heels of report from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) that 1 in 3 working mothers are now the primary ‘breadwinners’ in their household.
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