University of Sheffield committed to gender parity

 February 22, 2018

Enabling women students to reach the top of their field of study and profession is a matter of course at Britain's University of Sheffield.

The University’s impressive women alumni include renowned author Hilary Mantel, Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill, first Briton in space Helen Sharman, and the first woman to fly alone from Britain to Australia, Amy Johnson.

The city of Sheffield is also historically significant for women’s rights. Britain’s first suffrage organisation, the Sheffield Female Political Association, was established in the northern English city in 1851 to fight for the right of women to vote. The group petitioned the upper house of Britain’s parliament, the House of Lords, and is thought to have inspired an influential essay titled “The Enfranchisement of Women” by Harriet Taylor Mill and John Stuart Mill in the same year.

“As a University in a city that has roots in the women’s rights movement, we take inspiration from the early campaigners in championing gender equality across our institution,” said Dr Julie Gottlieb, Reader in Modern History, former chair of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities Equality and Diversity Committee and historical advisor for the statue of suffragist Millicent Fawcett - the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square. “This year is the centenary of women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom, but anniversaries are not just moments where we look back and reflect. They’re moments where we mobilise, where we think about what it means for our future.”

She Fest - International Women's Day - University of Sheffield

University of Sheffield sponsors SheFest IWD Fringe Festival

As in previous years, the University of Sheffield, which has been placed 104th best internationally and 13th best in the UK by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, will sponsor SheFest, a Sheffield fringe festival celebrating and promoting gender equality supporting International Women’s Day 2018.

The programme includes insightful and engaging academics giving talks and workshops addressing issues including gender, equality, human rights and more. Here are some fabulous events you can catch:

University of Sheffield a global leader for IWD

The International Women’s Day 2018 campaign theme is #PressForProgress and coincides with the centenary of women’s right to vote in the United Kingdom. As part of further International Women’s Day festivities, the University of Sheffield Women's Network and Sheffield Hallam University will co-host an event to demonstrate support for gender parity, while also reflecting on achievements from the past century of womens suffrage. The collaboration includes a panel discussion based around the theme of pressing for progress, gender equality, in addition to challenges the panellists themselves have faced during their own careers. The discussion is followed by a Q&A session, a networking lunch and workshops of choice from the following:

  • Leading when not in a “leadership” role
  • How to get and make the most out of a mentor, coach or supporter
  • Creating your career action plan
  • Resilience in the workplace: how universities can support

“For our community, International Women’s Day is a chance to participate in a global celebration of respect, appreciation and recognition of gender equality and women’s rights,” said Claire Mangham, Chair of the Women’s Network and Research Development Officer at the University of Sheffield.

Last year, similar International Women’s Day #BeBoldforChange campaign activity focused on the Sheffield Female Anti-Slavery Society, founded in 1825 and the Sheffield Ladies’ Association for the Universal Abolition of Slavery, which was founded in 1837. The work of women involved in the Sheffield-based international abolitionist movement led to the Slavery Abolitionist Act of 1833.

An equal, diverse and inclusive workplace

The University of Sheffield, with an enrolment of around 29,000, including over 8,000 international students from 150 countries, employs over 8,000 staff members. It is designated a prestigious workplace, selected as one of the 2018 Sunday Times 100 Best Not For Profit organisations and chosen several years running, including 24th place in 2018 as a Stonewall Top 100 workplace for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) equality.

The accolades do not stop there. The University is also only one of 12 universities honoured with an Athena SWAN silver institution award that recognises its firm commitment to gender equality in higher education and research. It also encourages diversity through a Women Academics Returners Programme, the Women@TUoS network and LGBT+ allies programme Open@TUoS.

“The University of Sheffield is fully committed to building a diverse, inclusive and equal community for both students and staff” said Professor Gill Valentine, Provost & Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Senior Diversity Champion at the University of Sheffield. “We are pleased that our efforts to prioritise equality have been recognised by Stonewall and Athena SWAN.”

A truly international university

Indeed, more than 160 educational institutions have joined the University of Sheffield’s highly visible #WeAreInternational campaign since it was launched in 2013, which celebrates the importance of diverse international student and staff communities.

Universities forge International Women’s Day activity worldwide

Further impressive universities around the world are also hosting dedicated events and activity to support International Women’s Day.

While some universities are reacting to the World Economic Forum 2017 Global Gender Gap Report which states that gender parity for women is 200 years away, other universities are focusing on the messages from social media movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp .

Britain’s University of Oxford hosts a “Women in the Workplace” session featuring Baroness Hayter, deputy leader of the House of Lords and shadow Brexit minister, and Mary Every, who served as a Bletchley Park codebreaker, during the Second World War.

Canada’s University of Toronto Rotman School of Management hosts an important #PressforProgress initiative focused on the Gender Gap Report.

Leeds Beckett University hosts an International Women's Day Press for Progress: Gender Research Conference.

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) as part of the 2018 Stanford Women in Data Science conference hosts an event celebrating Women in Data Science addressing evolving challenges of equity, diversity and gender as well as career opportunities for future generations. 

The University of Aberdeen hosts an International Women's Day Conference with the theme “Inspiring Women: Press for Progress”.

So, get engaged and #PressforProgress this International Women’s Day and beyond.  

If your university is actively celebrating International Women's Day and you'd like to submit an article for consideration, along with engaging images - or you'd like to submit original editorial about an important gender-focused initiative that supports the PressforProgress campaign - then please contact us.


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