Bristol strike action continues on International Women’s Day



Strike action continued today at the University of Bristol as part of International Women's Day, a day that saw the University release its Gender Pay Gap report and further controversy as interviews were held for the Head of Humanities with an all-male shortlist.

Today, the University of Bristol released its 2017 Gender Pay Gap Report, revealing that there is a gender pay gap at the University of 16.2%, below the national average of 18.4%. The gender pay gap is defined as 'a measure of the difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women' and it is the first year that universities are required to make this information public.

A rally also took place today at Woodlands Church and focused on issues such as the gender pay gap amongst Higher Education staff and arguing that ‘pensions are a feminist issue’.

Bristol UCU have also announced they are submitting a Gender Pay Claim, calling on the University of Bristol to close this gender pay gap within three years. Bristol UCU told Epigram: 'We at Bristol UCU submitted a formal claim on Tuesday this week, based on figures from the 2016 Equal Pay Audit, to ask the University to commit to closing the gender pay within three years. It's clear that across the institution, the higher up in seniority, the more male dominated the university is. We have asked the University to work with us on this as an issue of collective bargaining.'

Head of School interviews for Humanities also took place today and were picketed by striking staff members and students. The interviews have attracted criticism as the shortlist of candidates were all-male and the interviewees were required to cross the picket line to attend the interview.

Many picketers picked up on the irony of having the all-male interviews on International Women’s Day. Female staff members formed an 'Old boys Club' in protest, holding a placard that read 'But an all male shortlist on International Women's Day? Irony, it seems, is dead. The Old Boys' Club is alive and well at Bristol University in 2018'. According to a University spokesperson, the shortlist did originally include a female candidate who withdrew her application.

There was a range of International Women’s Day placards including ‘can’t be a gender pay gap if they only hire men’, ‘these interviews are a total sausage fest’ and ‘well-behaved women seldom make history’.

In response to today's events, a University Spokesperson said:
'We fully understand the concerns raised today and share the disappointment that there are no females being interviewed for this key position.The shortlist did include a female candidate who was invited for interview but later withdrew her application for personal reasons.
'Following due process, the next ranked candidate on the shortlist (who was male) was selected for interview.
'The University of Bristol is an employer that embraces equality. We greatly value and appreciate the benefits a diverse workforce can bring to the institution. Out of 12 Head of School appointments in the last 18 months, seven have been women. We are bound to act fairly in our recruitment processes in accordance with employment law which is what has happened in this instance.'

Strike action continues Monday-Friday next week.

Featured image Epigram / Evy Tang

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Alex Boulton

Editor in Chief 2017-18, Online Style Editor 2016-17. History student.