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Business schools must shape a gender-balanced world

Business schools must mainstream gender inclusivity in their cultures and curricula to address gender imbalance in organisations, management and leadership.

Gender inclusive organisations, management and leadership should be non-negotiable. Business schools have ethical, social and economic imperatives for mainstreaming gender inclusivity in their cultures and curricula.

Gender in leadership and management research remains a top priority for Newcastle University Business School as, despite the fact that women have closed the education, work experience and ambition gaps, the gender imbalance in leadership still exists.

A business and social justice issue

In a recent podcast, Professor Sharon Mavin, Director of the Business School, said, “Gender balanced organisations and economies are essential for communities to thrive. Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue and a social justice issue.” The young people we – as educators – work with are the business and organisational leaders of tomorrow. They are citizens and leaders of our society. Yet we are not doing enough to educate men and women about the persistence of stereotypes in hindering women’s aspirations and progress.

Research into the systemic barriers that operate in workplaces of all kinds is central to our Business School’s agenda. This is absolutely not about fixing women; it’s about recognising the ways in which organisations create systems that are biased against women such as out-of-hours networking, or inherent assumptions of leadership as an archetypal, heroic, masculine activity.

Creating space for diverse voices

It is important to create a space, physical and metaphorical, to enable diverse voices to be heard equally. In doing so, different views and values can emerge. One approach to enable this, is to create forums for dialogue. Encouraging dialogue between and within diverse groups encourages shared understandings to emerge with the potential to enable real change.

Newcastle University Business School holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award for our commitment to gender equality. We harness, produce and transfer knowledge of gender and other categories of social difference through our world-leading research and three collaborative spaces to enable social and structural change.

Gender and Entrepreneurship North East (GENE) brings together researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to advance issues of gender and other categories of social difference in entrepreneurship in the North East of England. North East Women Leaders (NEWL) is setting out to research and change future regional work practices to lead to the greater development, recruitment, retention and promotion of women leaders. Women in Sustainability NE (WINS) provides a hub for women in the sustainability sector and research about the lived experiences of a women-only forum in this sector.

These collaborative spaces have initiated the rethinking of gender in organisations, management and leadership to raise awareness of how we evaluate women and men differently against gendered stereotypes. Through greater gender awareness the potential for different routes emerges, helping to shape a more gender-balanced and inclusive world.

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