Mind that gap! An investigation of gender imbalance on the governing bodies of UK universities

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This paper evaluates the factors affecting the representation of females on governing bodies of UK universities. Applying resource dependence and stakeholder theory, the paper argues that it is in the interests of the organisation that there should be an equitable gender balance on the governing bodies of universities. Using data from university websites and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), we observe the proportion of female members of UK university boards to be 32%, higher than the corporate sector and similar to Parliament, but unsatisfactory given that it fails to reflect the percentage of female staff and students at UK universities. The principal findings of the research are that a gender imbalance persists across the sector with some differences between different types of university. For example, there are lower levels of overall female board membership for “New” (post 2000) universities, but lower female outsider members in pre-92 universities.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-736
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number4
Early online date5 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • UK universities, governing bodies, gender balance, stakeholder, resource dependence