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Gender Inequalities in the UK’s Higher Education Essay

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Updated: Apr 7th, 2022


Gender inequality is defined as the unequal rating of women and men’s roles in any aspect of the society. However, it is sensible to acknowledge that physical differences between these two sexes exist, but the way, which society interprets these differences, is what brings about gender inequality and this arises in terms of economic, educational, legal and political aspects.

Therefore, overcoming these barriers of prejudices and stereotypes can work to enable equal contribution to the society and advancing development, especially in the education sector. This study focuses on the persistence of gender inequalities in Higher Education in the UK.

Gender inequalities in the UK’s system of higher education

Gender inequality has shown the greatest shift of all the education inequalities. In the UK, gender gap closure is up to the age of sixteen and changing patterns in education achievement stands as evidence to this transformation. However, gender parity has dominated in education for several years.

The gender gap in performance at 16 and 18 has closed in terms of the patterns of achievement at the national level. Since that time these gaps have opened up with girls performing better than boys do over the last 10 years (EOC, 2003, p. 3) and this shows one of the most significant transformations in the gender inequality history in the UK.

However, there are several contradictions and tensions in relation to gender equality. UK academic staff statistics shows that lecturers comprise of 53% men and 47% women; 67% men and 33% women senior/principal lecturers; 83% men and 17% women professors/Heads of department (Cotterill & Letherby, 2007, p. 31).

The definition of male success is defined as normal while for women is measured in terms of how they can adhere to the norm, thus making the effort towards educational equality women to be at the same level as men (Smyth, 2007, p. 27).

Many countries disagree with the fact that higher education for a boy is more important. Many people claim that men get more job opportunities with good salaries and adequate work conditions than women with equal qualifications and potential.

Women and men should establish shared responsibilities at home, work and in the wider community. However, the initial step in achieving this should start at the education level. Jacobs (1996, p. 32) emphasizes that the rising status of women is major due to the rise of modern economic and political institutions, which have changed the priorities of these institutions concerning gender.

As the power of the economy transverse into large-scale organizations dissimilar to the distinctions of gender, the model lost its cultural and social trend and the efforts women to conquer the world became increasingly successful.

Total gender equality will eventually prevail; the only questions remaining are what it will look like and how and when it will arrive. Gillborn & Mirza (2000, p. 67) reported that differences in ethnicity and social class also increased with the pressure of schooling that was performance oriented in educational achievement respectively.

According to Teese et al. (1995), the arouse issue occurs when girls or boys fail or succeed in the education system A significant number of policy and legislative developments also form part of the climate of change in educational access and achievement of formal gender parity, which connects indirectly with the increase in women representation in public life.

Currently the contradiction of education and new job opportunities for women are increasing along with a focus on women’s unequal treatment in school, at work and at home. This stirred the Women’s Movement to give priority to gender equality in its manifesto goals (Harford & Rush, 2010, p. 43).

However, it has been difficult to quantify the implications as the areas of initiatives are provided with little attention. Even with formal ‘gender parity’ dominating in educational achievement there are still gender stereotypes in the subject areas, which determine one’s qualifications. For instance, men are dominating in such the sciences like engineering and Technology, while women are dominating in Biology, Arts, especially in Humanities and Education courses (EOC, 1998, p. 1).


Progress in reduction of gender parity and improvement of equity can be attained when women are considered aboard, so their status is improved. Their rights as well have to be honored and their positions are elevated. Gender equality should include identical partaking by both genders, in coming up with resolutions and encouraging women to optimally practice their rights and reduction in the gap between men and women to control resources and development benefits.

Access to resources should be equitable not biased. Education is meant for everyone in the higher institutions; hence, all the citizens have a right to participate in the knowledge acquisition and in employment.

Several strategies can be implemented to address gender inequality in the UK institutions, including encouraging women to apply for appointments and promotions, mentoring, role models, women’s networks. The management of the institutions, which includes the Vice Chancellor, Principal and managers, needs to change its attitude and show visible commitment in policies. Institutions need to review processes involved in promotions and recruitment and provide support during maternity as well as flexible working hours.


Cotterill, P & Letherby, G 2007, Challenges and negotiations for women in higher education. London: Springer.

Equal Opportunities Commission- EOC, 2003, Facts about Women and Men in Great Britain, London: Gvoove Publishers.

Equal Opportunities Commission-EOC, 1998, Gender and Differential Achievement in Education and Training: a Research Review,London: Sage.

Gillborn, D & Mirza, H 2000, Educational Inequality: mapping race, class and gender, London: Ofsted.

Harford, J & Rush, C 2010, Have women made a difference, London: Peter Lang.

Jacobs, J 1996, Gender inequality and Higher Education, Annual Review on Social behavior, 22, 153–85.

Smyth, E 2007, Education and Equity: International Perspectives on Theory and Policy. London: Springer Press.

Teese, R, et al 1995, Who wins at school? Boys and girls in Australian secondary education, Sydney: Canberra.

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