International Women’s Day 2017 in the news.

Times Higher Education asks what collaborative solutions we can come up with to sector-wide challenges:

‘Universities are competitive places; we vie for research funding, for students, for national and global reputation. When it comes to striving for diversity and equality, however, surely we are all in it together and are all seeking the same goals?

We face common challenges and celebrate the same things, not least because we have mobile staff who move between one university and another. Providing a level playing field for women is not a competition but rather a campaign to bring about structural change in a higher education system in which policies and processes have been built up for decades by men.

Gender equality is high on the agenda within UK higher education. You just have to look at the enormous impact of the Athena SWAN Charter awards for institutions and departments to see the importance given to initiatives to promote gender equality. But while such initiatives are helping to bring about change, there is still a need for bolder action. In general, it is time for us to move beyond nice words and tinkering around the edges.’

The BBC remembers the UK’s first female professor:

‘The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has uncovered the story of Emma Ritter-Bondy, whom it believes was the first female professor of a higher education institution in the UK.
The Glasgow Athenaeum School of Music, which is now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, made her Professor of Piano in 1892.

That was 16 years before Edith Morley, thought to be the first female professor in the UK, was appointed Professor of English Language at University College, Reading, which is now the University of Reading…

She was born Emma Maria Bondy in Austria in 1838 and studied at the Vienna Conservatory in the mid-1850s.

She married artist Franz Ritter in Vienna in 1862 and had two children, Ida and Camillo.

When Emma was widowed in 1879, she decided to leave her home in Koblenz, Germany, to start anew in Glasgow, and settled in the city by 1881.

In autumn 1892, when she was appointed Professor of Piano, she also became a British citizen.’

The Guardian asks why women are less often leaders in higher education:

‘Though the percentage of women appointed to lead universities is creeping up - between 2013 and 2016, 29% of new VC recruits were female – the net gain has been negligible.

It’s not, sadly, as if higher education is a particular outlier – just 10% of FTSE 100 companies are led by a female CEO, a quarter of the current cabinet are women, and if we’re talking national newspapers, a paltry 20% of editors are female.

But in a publicly-funded educational setting that has been explicitly committed to equal opportunities for decades now – and with at least equal numbers of men and women studying for degrees – what is stopping highly capable women taking half the seats at the top table?’

The Independent celebrates the girls defying the odds to become scientists and engineers:

‘Africa’s first science academy for gifted girls opened in Ghana in August 2016. Last year, 150 girls applied for 24 places, hoping to attend the new one-year academy.

These girls are statistically rare. Worldwide, women are still remarkably underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries and university courses. Many girls are actively discouraged from pursuing science in high school, assuming they complete their secondary education.

In Ghana, 21 per cent of girls are married before they are 18, with rates as high as 39 per cent in the northern part of the country, according to Unicef's State of the World’s Children 2016. To mark international women’s day, I met three of the pioneering girls at the African Science Academy (ASA) to find out what helped them get to this point, and what they need to continue their chosen path.’

Huffington Post busts some of the myths around the gender pay gap:

‘On some debate forums, it’s been argued that equal pay would “force more small businesses to close”, but the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) - an organisation dedicated to offering advice to such companies - does not agree.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of FSB, said the organisation “supports closing the gender pay gap”.

“Small businesses recognise the benefits of recruiting and retaining talented staff in their workplace,” he said.

“It is important to adopt a broader lens in addressing the gender pay gap by providing support to the growing number of self-employed. The Government should improve the maternity benefits provided to the self-employed to bring them closer in line with the benefits available to employees.”’

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