Climbing the 'Staircase': Do EEO Policies Contribute to Women Achieving Senior Leadership Positions in Universities in Australia and Hong Kong?

Elise Stephenson, Kaye Broadbent, Glenda Strachan

Abstract


Often at the vanguard of equal employment opportunity (‘EEO’) interventions and movements for equality, it is surprising that universities remain inherently gendered in leadership, with few women making it to senior leadership positions worldwide. While EEO policies have been expressly designed to achieve equality and redress gender imbalances inherent in university structures, it is unclear whether EEO policies practically contribute to this, with an enduring leadership imbalance evidenced globally. To determine the contributions of EEO policies across the international labour market in which universities operate, this case study compares the EEO policies and experiences of ten women university leaders in Australia and Hong Kong. This study finds that more-developed EEO policies correlate with more women in leadership and better experiences of leadership for women within the universities. However, it is clear from a sustained gender imbalance in leadership that EEO policies do not redress gender inequality alone. Limitations of EEO interventions include the narrow focus on aspects of discrimination and inequality and over-reliance on traditional concepts of “merit” and leadership. Grounded within the Asia Pacific region, this case study demonstrates that the contributions of EEO policies to women’s leadership in universities are nuanced.  



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References


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