Improving and Influencing Gender Equality in the Public Sector
Submitting InstitutionGlasgow Caledonian University
Unit of AssessmentBusiness and Management Studies
Summary Impact TypePolitical
Research Subject Area(s)
Education: Specialist Studies In Education
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Sociology
Summary of the impact
Gender inequality affects workforce effectiveness. Our research has
significantly increased awareness of factors which contribute to the
paucity of female representation in the public sector. Notably it has
shaped the policies and strategies of public sector agencies such the
Scottish Government, Leadership Foundation in Higher Education, NHS and
educational institutions such as universities and further education
colleges. The research provided a platform for implementation of the
Gender Equality Duty for the Scottish public sector.
Research on gender equality has been on-going at GCU since 2003 with
outputs from the followingprojects:
- Engaging with Leaders in Higher Education: Gender Balance in Higher
and Further Education awarded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher
Education (LFHE). Researchers: Duncan McTavish, Karen Miller and Emily
Thomson. Period of award: 2005 to 2007. Value: £100,590.
The Gender Equality Project awarded by the Scottish Executive.
Researchers: Duncan McTavish, Karen Miller and Susan Ogden. Period of
award: 2005 to 2006. Value: £25,000.
European Social Fund Programme: A Sectoral Analysis of Gender Equality
awarded by European Commission. Researchers: Duncan McTavish, Karen
Miller, Susan Ogden, Rona Beattie and Gill Maxwell. Period of award:
2003 to 2005. Value: £225,000.
The research team investigated: (1) the level of female representation in
public sectororganisations; and (2) barriers and enablers to female career
progression. McTavish and Miller(2009) and McTavish and Thomson (2007)
showed that New Public Management and public sector reforms (e.g.
performance management) placed a value on stereotypical masculine
normssuch as competitiveness, aggressiveness, decisiveness. These
performance management systems created disadvantage for the female
workforce since women were stereotypically perceived to contribute to the
organisation through emotional labour (caring and support roles). Reforms
created barriers for women in the public sector - a predominately female
workforce (e.g. in education, health and caring sectors) - through the
integration of private sector management systems which rewarded masculine
norms. McTavish and Miller (2006) also showed that in the NHS although
there were increasing numbers of female medical graduates, many were
entering general practice careers. This career preference, based on the
view that a general practice career was more conducive to a work-life
balance, created horizontal occupational gender segregation.Research on
the implications of the feminisation of the medical profession and
increasing number of women entering general practice as opposed to acute
clinical careers had not been undertaken before. The research demonstrated
the implications for clinical labour shortages, cost-inefficiencies and
patient care with fewer women entering acute surgical careers.
A new research approach was the disaggregation of data which enabled the
analysis of the number and level of female representation by sector and
comparatively (see for example Miller and McTavish, 2009). The main impact
of the approach was raised awareness of vertical and horizontal
occupational gender segregation in the public sector. For example, women
are concentrated often at lower levels of the organisational hierarchy, on
part-time contracts, lower pay levels, and within stereotypically feminine
roles such as administrative, secretarial, pastoral and support roles.
Fyfe, Miller and McTavish (2009) also found variances in the formulation
and implementation of equality policy practices in the UK's system of
multi-level governance resulting in policy divergences. Miller (2009)
showed unintended policy outcomes of implementing gender equality
mainstreaming which gave scope for flexibilities in the labour market.
Flexible working policies such as part-time employment, accessed mostly by
women, further entrenched existing stereotypical perceptions of women as
'less committed to the job' which disadvantaged their career
References to the research
McTavish, D and Miller, K. (eds.) (2006) Women and Leadership, New
Horizons in Management Series (Cary L. Cooper, series editor),
Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
McTavish, D. and Thomson, E. (2007) 'Managing Scottish Higher and
Further Education: A Comparison of (Re)Gendered Organizations', Public
Management Review, 9 (3): 421-433.
McTavish, D and Mil er, K. (2009) 'Gender Balance in Leadership,'
Education Management Administration & Leadership, 37 (3): 350-365.
Miller, K. (2009) 'Public Policy Dilemma - gender equality mainstreaming
in UK policy formulation,' Public Money and Management, 29 (1): 43-50.
Fyfe, G., Miller Johnston, K. and McTavish, D. (2009) ' Muddling
Through' in a Devolved Polity: implementation of equal opportunities
policy in Scotland,' Policy Studies, 30 (2): 203-219.
Miller Johnston, K. and McTavish D. (2011) 'UK Public Administration
Scholarship: Equality of Opportunity for Women?', Public Administration,
89, (2): 681-697.
Details of the impact
The main impact of the research is the improved understanding of
barriers and enablers to female career progression and the influence on
the gender equality policy agenda and public debate. The Scottish
Government drew upon the commissioned final research report, to
formulate gender equality policy for Scotland. This impact, the
influence on the policy agenda, is evidenced in the Scottish Government
(2010) policy document.
In the further and higher education sectors the research informed
colleges and universities on gender equality; barriers and enablers to
career progression of female staff; and the Gender Equality Duty, which
is a legal requirement on all public authorities to pay due regard to
eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment on the grounds of sex,
and promote equality of opportunity between women and men in
policy-making, decision-making, service provision, employment matters,
and statutory discretion. The research informed the Leadership
Foundation for Higher Education's Diversity Strategy for 2007-2012;
greater awareness of gender inequality in the education sector (see LFHE
In Practice, Issue 9); and stimulated public debate of the enablers and
barriers to female career progression within the education sector. This
was achieved through a series of presentations of research findings to
members of the Association of Scottish Colleges; Universities Scotland,
and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education; and broader
dissemination through media for example by the Times Higher Education
Supplement which publicised the research in an article on 30 July 2009
that stimulated reader comments via blogs and twitter.
A further impact of the research was the support to public sector
organisations, as participants in the research, in preparation for the
implementation of the Gender Equality Duty. The organisations included
NHS Health Boards; Royal College of Nursing; Royal College of Physicians
and Surgeons; Police; Fire Services; colleges; universities; Scottish
Government, Association of Scottish Colleges; Chartered Institute for
Secretaries and Administrators; Equality Opportunities Commission; and
Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments. For example, the
workforce audit conducted for the organisations provided a benchmark of
the representation of female staff at various levels of the
organisations, which was not undertaken before, and provided data to
meet the regulatory requirements of the Gender Equality Duty.
The research stimulated the debate and created awareness beyond
Scotland. The research findings were included in other projects e.g. in
a major research study on the NHS in England (see UK NHS Midland and
East 'Releasing Potential: Women Doctors and Clinical Leadership' by P.
Newman). The research also informed the UK Commission for Employment and
Skills by providing evidence for its policy documents on gender
occupational discrimination and segregation (see https://intelligence.ukces.org.uk/Pages/Articles.aspx?RelArticleID=398&Keywords=22~29~55~90~98).
Beyond the UK, the research was included in other policy documents such
as the major trans-European research project entitled, 'Meta-Analysis of
Gender Science Research, Topic Report:Horizontal and Vertical
Segregation' by F. Sagebiel and S. Vazquez-Cupeiro (2010) as
commissioned by the European Commission (EU Project RTD-PP-L4-2007-1);
and The Council for European Studies, Montreal, Canada, 'New Blood: The
Interaction of Enlargement and Gender in the Changing Composition of the
European Commission Staff' (2010). Importantly, the United Nations
Development Programme adopted the research by Miller and McTavish on the
representation of women in the public sector in a presentation of Gender
and Public Administration by Soma Chakrabarti Fezzardi the UNDP
consultant for Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA) (see http://www.slideshare.net/undpeuropeandcis/gender-equality-in-the-public-administration-gepa)
based on Miller and McTavish (2011).
Sources to corroborate the impact
Scottish Government (2010) 'Reporting on Progress Towards Equality of
Opportunity for Women and Men made by Public Authorities in Scotland:
Ministerial Priorities for Gender Equality: Tackling Occupational
Segregation: A Review of Key Evidence and National Policies'
Times Higher Education Supplement publicised the research http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/407585.article,
30 July 2009
- The Centre for Public Policy and Management (2006)
Gender Balance in Management: Scotland's Public and Private Sectors, http://www.academia.edu/1993935/Gender_Balance_in_Management_Scotlands_Public_and_Private_Sectors
Miller, K (2005) Gender Balance in Management: The Health Sector in
Scotland, Report, ISBN: 1903661919
- Scottish Government
Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board
Leadership Foundation for Higher Education
Chartered Institute for Secretaries and Administrators
Glasgow Clyde College
UNDP adopted the research recommendations in a presentation of Gender
and Public Administration by Soma Chakrabarti the UNDP consultant for
Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA) (see http://www.slideshare.net/undpeuropeandcis/gender-equality-in-the-public-administration-gepa