Women in Trade Unions and Discussion Group for “Complaint as Diversity Work”
Women in Trade Unions
Women are seriously under-represented in trade union leadership roles, despite the fact that they form over half of UK membership.
Women still earn an average of 18% less than men in our economy – the Gender Pay Gap at Loughborough University is larger, with a mean difference of 22.7%.
During the COVID-19 pandemic women are facing increased domestic violence, unpaid care duties, unemployment, and poverty. Despite women making up a majority of front-line workers, there is disproportionate and inadequate representation of women in national and global COVID-19 policy spaces.
Only 20 countries have women as Heads of State and Government. The United Nations call for “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”
Complaint as Diversity Work: Thursday 25th March 1-2pm
Our discussion group this week explores issues in Sara Ahmed’s lecture ‘Complaint as Diversity Work‘, which takes a critical (though not hostile) approach to management-led diversity agendas in Higher Education, with a particular focus on the gendered and racialized forms of labour they require. With Equality at the heart of UCU’s national #FourFights campaign and local work, our discussion will be led by members’ responses to the lecture. You can watch the lecture, which is an hour long, ahead of the session here and/or read a shorter blog post which introduces its main themes can be read here.
Link to join the discussion session is here: Click here to join the meeting
Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity
Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (IWD2021)
International Women’s Day (IWD) was started in the 1900s when women’s oppression and inequality spurred them to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change in working hours, pay and for voting rights. The first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed in the United States on February 28, 1909, followed by the establishment of International Women’s Day in 1911 in Europe and the US. International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975.
Over the last 110 years, there is more equality in legislative rights in many countries, and an increased visibility of women role models. However, the gender pay gap persists, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health, and the violence against them is worse than that of men. https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Activity/15586/The-history-of-IWD).
To celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, LUCU will be sending weekly emails with information about women in the workplace and also holding 2 free events on:
- #ChooseToChallenge bias. A workshop with Marie Hanlon to empower people to identify and challenge bias head-on.
- Complaint as Diversity Work reading group discussion with David Bell and David Wilson. This group will discuss the complexities that emerge when institutions take on the mantle of ‘diversifying’ themselves, and the struggles of those who complain about gendered and racialized issues in the workplace.
The University has also organized events to mark these dates: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/news-events/iwd-2021/
Listening to Lived Experience
We all have complex identities made up of intersecting characteristics such as race, gender, sexuality and much more. We may face prejudice against our gender, while experiencing privilege because of our race, or vice versa. It’s important that we listen to the experiences of those around us and think about how they compare to our own, in order to help us understand this complex picture. Sharing our personal experiences, especially painful experiences, can make us feel vulnerable. Indeed, such experiences can make us materially vulnerable. It is a privilege when someone is willing to let us see into their lives, and it gives us an opportunity to learn and grow.
We are therefore very grateful to our colleague David Roberts, who recently shared an intimate account of his life on the University Equality, Diversity and Inclusion blog. In ‘Recollections of a racial past in a racist present’ David paints a vivid picture of the challenges he’s faced, and continues to face, and those who have helped him achieve the success he has. We urge you to find time in your busy lives to read it – especially if your race is not something you’ve ever thought much about.
When a baby is born, or indeed more often these days long before it is born, we ask “what is it?” The gender of the brand-new human becomes their defining feature before they have drawn their first breath – determining the choice of clothes in which they will be dressed and the colour of the toys on which they will dribble and chew. In the short piece “What are you having?”, David Wilson explores why we’re so keen to answer this burning question, and what problems it might cause.
If you would like to have a piece of writing on EDI circulated among the membership, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
UCU Week of Action Against Workplace Racism
(22-26 February 2021)
LUCU would like to call members’ attention to this week of national action. Action Against Workplace Racism aims to encourage anti-racist initiatives in further and higher education to transform education by placing the broader anti-racist agenda at the centre of our thinking – from how we relate to each other as colleagues to how we teach and carry out research/enterprise activities.
The theme for this week of national action is Community Accountability: an antiracism for abolitionist times. For more information about the lived experiences of racism, its impacts on Black and Global Majority people in education, and how we might act to bring about change, members may find the following video material of interest.
You can find out more about the UCU campaign here.
LGBTQI+ History Month
February is a time to highlight and celebrate the contributions of LGBTQI+ communities in Britain.
At a time when the Covid pandemic is increasing existing inequalities globally, and countries such as Poland and Hungary are removing hard-won rights, it is especially important that we stand in solidarity with LGBTQI+ people, who often face discrimination in accessing healthcare among other inequities. Closer to home we have concerns about the government’s recent decision to shelve improvements to the Gender Recognition Act and the potential for transphobic implications of the government’s consultation on gendered toilet provision.
We would like to call attention to an excellent resource bank that UCU has put together to commemorate the history of LGBTI+ communities and to highlight and combat ongoing discrimination. This includes short videos on understanding what is meant by LGBT+ and what issues the community can face at work.
You can find all of the resources at UCU – LGBT+ History Month
LUCU Committee – 5th Feb 2021