Shiny on the Outside, Rotten on the Inside? Perceptions of Female Early Career Researchers on Diversity Policies in Higher Education Institutions

Abstract

Diversity policies have become an indispensable part of higher education institutions (HEIs) of the Global North. The increased monitoring by the European Commission has led to changes in Belgian HEI policy especially regarding gender. While research shows that the implementation of diversity policies has a positive effect on redistributing power, critics point out how the initial aim of these policies has been answered by empty promises. This research is based on 50 in-depth interviews of the perceptions and experiences of female academics with diversity policies in five Belgian HEIs. Results show that women perceive these policies as ways to window-dress equality externally, but do not have the expected effects internally. Women were divided on the utilisation of positive action. In addition, the policies lacked an intersectional perspective regarding ethnic minority backgrounds as well as family status for faculty. Studying their experiences and perceptions will allow staff equality agenda in HEIs to progress.

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Bourabain, D., Verhaeghe, PP. Shiny on the Outside, Rotten on the Inside? Perceptions of Female Early Career Researchers on Diversity Policies in Higher Education Institutions. High Educ Policy (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41307-021-00226-0

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Keywords

  • Higher education
  • Diversity policies
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Equality
  • New public management