Only 34% of honorary degrees in the last five years have been bestowed to women, a York Vision investigation has found.
This revelation comes despite the University’s supposed commitment to tackling gender inequality, recognised by their participation in the Athena Swan scheme.
Since the January 2015 graduations, only 33 of a total 97 honorary degrees have been awarded to women by the Honorary Associations Committee after open nominations from members of University Council and Court, Heads of Academic Departments and Centres, members of staff, students, and alumni.
Notable women who have received an honoris causa in the last five years including Baroness Hale, former President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, and Bridget Jones’ Diary author Helen Fielding.
In this timespan, 64 men were awarded the honor, including former England football manager Roy Hodgson and children’s writer Sir Michael Morpurgo.
The worst graduation period came in January 2016 as no women were honoured by the University whilst Hodgson and The Thick of It creator Armando Ianucci received degrees.
This figure seems to be indicative of a larger problem at York regarding institutionalised sexism. The University has a 17.6% mean gender pay gap between men and women. Women also occupy just 40% of positions in the top pay quartile despite there being more women employed at York.
These findings are likely to bring the manner in which honorary degrees are bestowed into question as gender equality has become an even more important issue facing the higher education sector in recent years.
The University and YUSU’s Women & Non-Binary Officers have been contacted for comment.
Featured image courtesy of the University of York