At the final Women and Equality questions before the summer recess Sharon Hodgson, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, pressed the Government on what it is doing to change the current damning statistics on the lack of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) represented in UK universities, both in academia and in positions of senior management.
Image copyright: Parliamentary Recording Unit, 2015.
Sharon asked the Secretary of State:
2 July 2015 : (Hansard Column 1624)
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab):
Does the Secretary of State agree that to help address educational inequalities, more academics from BAME backgrounds should be present in our higher education system? Only 85 of the 18,500 professors in UK academia are black, and within that number only 17 are women. The statistics are equally damning in senior management roles, with only 15 black academics. What are the Government doing to boost BAME representation in our universities?
The hon. Lady is absolutely right: there is a lack of diversity, and not just in higher education institutions; unfortunately, we see that in other parts of our society, too. Higher education is not within the Department for Education’s remit, but I would be very happy to talk to the Minister responsible for higher education. The hon. Lady is also absolutely right to identify the importance of role models. I am sure she will join me in recognising that in the recent Queen’s birthday honours list more than 51% of the recipients of honours were women.
Speaking after the exchange Sharon said:
"I am pleased to hear the Secretary of State acknowledge that we have a problem in this country with this issue, however I would like to have heard more about what the Government is going to do to change this situation. We cannot be complacent and simply talk about this issue, real action needs to be taken and I really hope the Government understands how vital it is that everybody in our society has the potential to reach the top of whichever field they are in"
"Role models are hugely important for people as they grow up and start thinking about their future careers. By not having enough BAME role models in these institutions just imagine the amount of talent we are losing through young people not believing this field is for them. It’s time to change this, and I will be watching the Government closely to make sure they work to do this."
Hansard Source to question:
Women and Equalities Questions - 02/07/2015 in Hansard