University pledges to combat gender pay gap in landmark agreement with UCU


By Ellie Brown, News Subeditor

An agreement on closing the gender pay gap was signed on Tuesday 28 January and comes after 18 months of negotiations.

Senior representatives from the University of Bristol and Bristol Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) have signed a Collective Agreement to reduce the University’s gender pay gap – the first agreement of its kind in UK higher education.

As part of the agreement, the University has promised to take several actions to tackle its gender pay gap.

These include increasing opportunities for the progression of female staff, a change which the Union argues is vital due to the number of women in roles with limited chances for career advancement.

Additionally, the University has promised to provide more opportunities for staff to work flexibly, train staff involved in recruitment and promotion, and fund a pilot scheme allowing researchers to work between grants.

In 2018, the median gender pay gap at the University of Bristol was 13.6 per cent, while for UK universities as a whole it was 14.8 per cent, according to analysis by Times Higher Education (THE).

However, the difference between the mean hourly pay of male and female employees at the University was 19.6 per cent, greater than the average mean gap across UK universities, calculated to be 15.1 per cent by THE.

Professor Judith Squires, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at the University of Bristol, said: ‘This agreement with UCU signifies our commitment to eliminating the gender pay gap.

‘The University of Bristol and UCU have been working together on this issue since 2018 and have made real progress since then with new initiatives to support women’s career development and a new academic promotions framework.

‘But there is still more work to do, and this new agreement outlines key actions which will help to achieve our shared aim.

‘We’re proud to be leading the way on such an important issue and hope this collaborative approach may act as a positive catalyst for change on the gender pay gap in the sector as a whole.’

Meanwhile, Suzy Cheeke, Vice-president of Bristol UCU, said:

‘This landmark agreement shows what can be achieved when universities work with us to tackle a problem head-on.

‘We now have a series of measures in place to deliver real positive change for women at the University of Bristol.’

Featured Image Credit: Epigram / Cameron Scheijde

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