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A worldwide conversation on women’s higher education and equality in the workplace

Teaching institutions working with the University of London from across the world are being invited to participate in a worldwide conversation on women’s higher education and equality in the workplace.

Written by Binda Rai |

Dr Rabia Bhuiyan with Dr Mary Stiasny
Dr Mary Stiasny OBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), in conversation with Dr Rabia Bhuiyan, who was awarded a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

The worldwide conversation is part of the University of London’s 2018 Leading Women Campaign, celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the University introducing ‘Special Examinations for Women’, which ten years later led to the opening up of full degrees for women. In both instances, the University of London was the first to do so in the UK.

The aim of the Leading Women campaign is to generate debate around the issues of gender equality in higher education and the workplace. The University of London’s 2018 Graduation Ceremony on the 6 March 2018, as part of the Leading Women campaign, celebrated the achievement of all its students, with a particular focus on women. Two leading women were awarded honorary degrees: Professor Emeritus Susan Dev OBE and Dr Rabia Bhuiyan.

The global conversation will also act as the second annual University of London 1858 Charter Lecture and will launch from London on 19 September, where a keynote lecture will be delivered by Shauna Olney, Chief of the Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch of the International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialised agency of the United Nations.

Following the keynote lecture, a distinguished panel of speakers, chaired by Dr Mary Stiasny OBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), University of London, will take up the issues proposed by Shauna Olney, before opening up the conversation to the assembled audience. Members of the panel include Isabel Fernandez-Mateo, Adecco Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, London Business School; Francesca Lagerberg, Global Leader, Network Capabilities, Grant Thornton; and Sam Smethers, Chief Executive, Fawcett Society, with further speakers to be confirmed.

This launch event in London will begin a series of events, hosted by the University’s teaching institutions around the world, including Albania, Bangladesh, Czech Republic, India and Pakistan. These global ‘conversations’, taking place between 20 September and 26 November, will each focus on in-country issues surrounding gender equality in higher education and the workplace.

Women celebrating success at the 2018 London Graduation
This ‘worldwide conversation’, launching in London, is a continuation of the University of London’s tradition of opening up access to higher education for all.

As host and chair of the panel, Dr Mary Stiasny OBE, said: ‘I am delighted to note that this ‘worldwide conversation’, launching in London, is a continuation of the University of London’s tradition of opening up access to higher education for all. This year’s 150th anniversary celebration of the University’s ‘Special Examinations for Women’ is a perfect backdrop for our ‘worldwide conversation’, which I know will continue to further the University’s access agenda for women by enabling key local issues surrounding gender inequality to be heard on a world stage.’  

She added:

According to the World Economic Forum, there is a 32% gender gap, when you take into account health, education, economic participation and political attainment. While education is often considered a pathway to greater opportunities for women, this is not the case for many women all over the world. It is worth noting that while the educational achievement gender gap, according to the World Economic Forum, could be closed within 13 years, the economic participation gap could take a staggering 217 years to close. The University of London’s ‘worldwide conversation’ draws attention to this discrepancy, and asks: ‘why educated and capable women are so often passed over for leadership positions around the world?

The University will be collating all of the conversations in a publication, due to be published next year.

Further information

Further information on participating in the event, or attending it as part of the audience, is available from Binda Rai, Head of External Relations, Media and PR, University of London.

  • Teaching institutions wishing to hold their own in-country conversation can register online.
  • Members of public attending the London conversation can register online. See more information about the event.