News ID: 212594
Published: 0509 GMT April 04, 2018

University principal defends gender pay gap

University principal defends gender pay gap

A university principal in the UK has defended the gender pay gap by arguing that “women have a natural tendency not to have a go”.

Professor Paul Layzell, the head of Royal Holloway University London (RHUL), insisted that there is a ‘transparent and fair pay system’ at the institution, according to

He claimed that women and minority ethnic groups are less likely to ‘put themselves in for promotion’ at the university, which has a 10 percent gender pay gap for full-time professors.

At an open staff meeting in November, Professor Layzell said: “There are certain protected groups where there is a natural tendency to not have a go and put themselves in for promotion — sometimes that’s gender, sometimes it’s the BAME [Black and Minority Ethnic] group”.

He added that some academics are now using a teaching route into a professorship, which is normally research-led, which would ‘play to things they’re good at’.

Layzell is now facing a backlash over the comments, which were published by the student magazine Orbital after it obtained a recording of the meeting.

Hundreds of alumni have signed an open letter attacking  Layzell for his comments, saying he showed a ‘lack of understanding and sensitivity’.

“It has been hugely disappointing to discover that Royal Holloway has one of the worst professorial gender pay gaps in the country,” the letter said.

“This disappointment has been compounded by your response in which you blamed women rather than institutional sexism for this gap. You then went on to make comments which implied that you felt women were more suited to teaching than research.”

The letter says that Layzell’s analysis is “not only crass, but shows a lack of understanding and sensitivity.” Alumni accused RHUL of having “drifted from a progressive legacy of promoting women’s rights”.

Joe Rayment, who graduated from RHUL in 2013 and is now a Labor councilor, was one of the authors of the open letter.

He said: “I am extremely disturbed by what has happened there in recent months. I hope that our voices are heard and that Layzell will respond to us and explain exactly how he will make us once again proud to be Royal Holloway alumni.”

A RHUL spokesman said that the principal’s comments at the meeting were taken out of context, adding: “The principal has, on a number of occasions, stressed his determination to tackle the gender pay gap.

“In the meeting, the principal explained Royal Holloway’s commitment to supporting colleagues to reach their promotion potential by pioneering a number of initiatives.

“Our approach to pay and promotion is both fair and transparent however, we recognize that there is more that we, and the sector, can do to tackle the causes of inequality.

“In response, for some years now, Royal Holloway has been making changes to processes and procedures to minimize barriers to promotion.”

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