Glyndwr University paves the way for gender equality with its new senior team
One of the UK’s newest universities is also the most forward-thinking when it comes to breaking down barriers of gender equality and equal rights.
As a new report revealed that men chair 81% of all university governing bodies and 78% of principal roles in the UK, Wrexham Glyndŵr University is looking forward to a very different gender balance in its senior team.
The University has just welcomed its new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Maria Hinfelaar, and chair of the Board of Governors, Maxine Penlington OBE.
They will be joined in the summer by a new Deputy Vice Chancellor, Dr Claire Taylor and a new Student Union President, Emily Karim – giving a uniquely female face to Wrexham Glyndŵr’s most public senior figures.
Professor Hinfelaar joins the institution following the departure of Professor Graham Upton, who stepped down from his interim role following a successful period which saw the management team lead the university to financial stability.
She began her tenure earlier this month, having previously steered Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) to become the fourth largest Institute of Technology (IoT) in Ireland with 6500 full time and part time students and over 500 staff.
In addition to Professor Hinfelaar and Dr Taylor, the University’s senior management already boasts some strong female role models - Director of Operations Lynda Powell, interim Pro-Vice Chancellor Louise Casella, Academic Registrar Louise Medlam, Associate Director of Communications, Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions, Saffron Grover, and Caroline Gray, Director of the OpTIC Technology Centre in St Asaph.
As a widening access university of and for north east Wales, Wrexham Glyndŵr has long flown the flag for equality and will continue to do so as it heads into the summer under a five-year strategy which aims to double student numbers and increase turnover to £75m by 2019/20, working closely with industry partners and other educational institutions.
Professor Hinfelaar said: “Of course it is refreshing to see a higher education institution make such strong progress towards balancing gender representation among the senior leadership.
“I’m enjoying working with all our senior leaders, male and female, to continue our work opening up avenues to prospective students and employees, providing opportunities and creating an environment of support and hope for all. We’ve a strong cadre of senior managers now, of both genders, but it’s fair to say we are quite unique in having so many female leaders here.
“But that’s Wrexham Glyndŵr, it’s what the university is all about, providing opportunities and breaking down barriers.”
The Women Count: Leaders in Higher Education 2016 report revealed that men still overwhelmingly dominate the top leadership roles in 166 higher education institutions across the UK.
Since the last study in 2013, there has been a rise in the number of women appointed as governing body chairs or vice-chancellors, but the net increase in women at that level is only 11 chairs and seven vice-chancellors.
Of the 68 vacancies for chairs of governing bodies arising in 2013, only 28% of the new appointees were women. Similarly, 45 new vice-chancellors were appointed between December 2013 and January 2016, and only a third of the jobs went to women.
Maxine Penlington is “proud” to see Wrexham Glyndŵr lead the way for equal rights in higher education, but said the most important factor is delivering a top-class institution to prospective students and the people and businesses of north east Wales.
“I’m proud and honoured to be chair of this university and for it to be giving these opportunities to women,” she said.
“But ultimately it’s about getting the right people in place, whatever their gender, and ensuring they share in the vision we have under the strategy for 2016-20.
“Wrexham Glyndŵr is the new kid on the block and likes to do things differently while maintaining a high level of academic and operational excellence. With the new-look Board in place and a strong executive team leading the way I’m confident things will improve even further as we move forward.”