If there is one thing that York normally seems to excel in, it is diversity. While academic standards, facilities and funding are often questioned and debated, one thing that York had always seemed secure in was the balanced and equal distribution of students, ethnicities and religions across campus.
The new information regarding the distribution of female academics then comes as something of a shock. The violent reaction of many female staff who spoke to Nouse, but who refused to officially comment, clearly exposed an underlying problem which has plainly been troubling York for very many years. While statistics can often be used to demonstrate whatever the user wants, a vast quantity of personal testamonies cannot, and should not be ignored.
Yet, as seems to happen so often at York, the University have been well aware of the problem for decades, and yet continue to remain strong in their antique attitudes and refusal to change. They have openly admitted that they have not been doing enough, and they are right – they aren’t. While many counter arguments exist as to why York is not doing better in certain areas as a University, there really is no excuse for their shortcomings in this area.
It is easy to see how the University have got themselves into this position. Adapting timetables to accommodate working parents as well as joint-honours students and awkward lecturers is always going to cause somewhat of a headache for those behind the administration, and they have clearly taken the easy way out for far too long, prioritising male over female staff for the sake of simplicity if nothing else. Even those departments who do strive to try and readdress the gender imbalance face difficulties, as the University nursery is yet another neglected and insufficient service under their charge. With ridiculously high competition for places, and waiting lists as long as your arm, it seems suprising that any female academics manage to work at our institution at all.
The work of Charlie Leyland and other members of YUSU in this field, as well as certain departments, is admirable, but unless the University is prepared to make genuine efforts to improve in this area, their efforts are ultimately futile.