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Dr Dee Torrance (left) and Dr Rowena Arshad at the British Council Global Education Dialogue in Delhi

Dr Dee Torrance (left) and Dr Rowena Arshad at the British Council Global Education Dialogue in Delhi

By Dr Rowena Arshad, Head of Moray House School of Education &
Dr Dee Torrance, Director of Masters in Educational Leadership, the University of Edinburgh

At the beginning of the British Council Global Education Dialogue in Delhi (February 10-11th) on Women and Leadership ‘The Absent Revolution‘, Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre in London challenged participants to consider, “are we being too docile when it comes to issues of gender equality?”. A sad, but unfortunate, truth was when Jude reminded the audience that there was not single country in the world where women did not have subordinate status to men. Professor Louise Morley, University of Sussex asked the audience to reflect on why it is that “where there is power, women are absent”? Over the two days, we heard a variety of perspectives from a wide range of different country contexts covering most of South and also East Asia. The similarities in the emerging themes were striking.

Regardless of location in the world, one fact stood out – there are comparatively few women represented in leadership roles within higher education.

Internationally, the need to identify and establish strategies to redress the gender gap were also explored throughout the two-day conference. Some recurring themes included: the benefits of mentoring, the importance of female role models, the need for established women encouraging and enabling less established women, guarding against ‘exceptionalism’ and the need to establish robust data gathering systems.

So the challenge to senior managers in higher education (HE) around the world is to put the (E) into quality. If universities were rated for their equality credentials, would the league tables and world rankings look different?

Attending the Dialogue event in Delhi, the same day the state election results was declared was exciting. The ruling party, the BJP – the dominant party in Delhi, lost all but three seats with the AAP, an anti-corruption Party, taking 67 of the 70 available seats. We guess Delhi will now wait with bated breath to see how the ‘settled will of the Delhi people’ will be taken forward.