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Exclusive: These 10 Universities Are Tackling Gender Inequality With UN Women

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A statue of John Carroll, founder of Georgetown University, sits before Healy Hall on the school's campus August 15, 2006 in Washington, DC.Photograph by Alex Wong—Getty Images

Ten schools just got their first progress reports gender equality.

On Tuesday, UN Women movement HeForShe released its first IMPACT 10x10x10 University Parity report, which looks at the commitments made by ten global universities since they took the UN’s gender parity pledge last summer.

“This is first baseline report for the universities,” explains Elizabeth Nyamayaro, senior advisor to the under-secretary-general of UN Women and the head of HeForShe. “These schools have agreed to annual reporting and transparency.”

One of the major goals of the initiative has been to increase the ratio of men to women within the universities’ faculty and administrative ranks (it’s currently 20:1, according to HeForShe). Examples of commitments to balance out the ratio include French university Sciences Po’s goal of 40% representation of both genders by 2020 and Oxford University’s goal of having one-third of its senior leadership be female by 2020.


In the new report, the ten participating schools reveal their gender breakdowns among undergraduate students, graduate students, full-time faculty, tenured professors, and senior leadership. The intention is to create a benchmark that can be used to provide a clear picture of the progress made by the institutions over time.

Another major focus of the IMPACT champions has been to increase the number of women in traditionally male-dominated fields of study—namely, STEM. Ontario-based University of Waterloo aims to have a graduating class that is one-third women by 2020.

Feridun Hamdullahpur, Waterloo’s president and vice-chancellor, says the institution is well on its way to exceeding that goal. “For the first time in history, we have an engineering class that is 34% female,” he says.

While Hamdullahpur says he is pleased with the institution’s progress, he notes that true change will happen only when all of academia is on board. “We cannot do this in isolation,” he says.

Fortunately, he is not alone. In addition to the schools mentioned above, the other champions are: Georgetown University and Stony Brook University (U.S.), Nagoya University (Japan), the University of Hong Kong, the University of Leicester (U.K.), the University of São Paulo (Brazil), and the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa). Together, the schools represent more than 700,000 students and 40,000 faculty members.

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In addition to increasing gender diversity among students and faculty, some champions are working to make their campuses safer for women. Oxford, for example, has created compulsory sexual consent workshops for undergraduate students, as well as a first response mobile app.

The report is part of a UN Women effort to track the progress of its IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative, a commitment from 10 heads of state, 10 CEOs, and 10 university presidents to take tangible steps to achieve gender equality.