I had the chance to speak with Patricia Flynn from Bentley University and Maureen Kilgour from the University of St-Boniface, co-facilitators of the PRME Working Group on Gender Equality. The Working Group, launched in 2011, aims to provide support and resources for integrating gender issues and awareness into management education and recently launched their Global Gender Equality Resource Repository at the 3rd Global Forum in Rio. Here are five questions with Maureen and Patricia about the project.
1. How did the working group on Gender Equality come about?
In March 2010, the UN Global Compact and UNIFEM (now part of UN Women) launched the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) to “help the private sector focus on key elements integral to promoting gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and community”. In January 2011, in response to this new initiative, PRME hosted a Human Rights Webinar focused on considering the relevance of the WEPs for the academic community and highlighting the importance of embedding gender issues into business school curricula around the world. The PRME Working Group on Gender Equality launched with a mission to bring together academics and employers to provide support and resources for integrating gender issues and awareness into management education, business school curricula, and related research to facilitate respect and support for the WEPs and PRME. We currently have more than 30 members, both men and women, from 15 countries, actively participating in this group.
2. Why have a working group on Gender Equality?
Gender (in)equity has a long history in business schools and in the workplace, and traditions are hard to change. Across disciplines, the scope and quantity of materials relevant to integrating gender issues into the curriculum varies widely. Case materials on women leaders and managers are still rare, and faculty are often unaware of how to access the related materials that do exist.
In recent years, issues around gender have been focused on issues of the (under)representation of female faculty and administrators and the (under)representation of female students in particular disciplines. The response has been adoption of policies that improve hiring processes, recruiting more female students and introducing specific courses on issues that address gender. While these initiatives are critical and important, they have done little to change how gender and gender (in)equality are addressed (taught, managed, discussed and tackled) in management education. For this reason, in initiatives such as the PRME Working Group, it is important to go beyond the paradigms of “equal opportunity” and diversity management to a more thorough integration of gender equality into management education.
3. What is the Global Gender Equality Resource Repository project?
In order to help promote and expedite the integration of gender issues in management education, the working group, in collaboration with PRME Steering Committee member AACSB, is creating a Global Gender Equality Resource Repository. The Repository will identify materials and resources that will assist faculty in integrating gender issues and awareness into a variety of disciplines and fields. These will include, for example, specific case studies, syllabi, texts, and best practices that assess or otherwise address the role of gender in various educational and workplace environments.
Currently, the Repository has 13 disciplinary subgroups, including Accounting and Finance, Corporate Governance, Corporate (Social) Responsibility, Economics, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, History and Anthropology, Law, Leadership, Management, Marketing, Negotiation and Operations Management. Materials for each subgroup are developed by small groups of volunteers from around the world.
There are many faculty who already have excellent examples of how to integrate various aspects of gender into their courses. What we want to do is bring all of this information into one location, so that others can use it to integrate these issues across their curricula. The working group will also be working with professional academic associations to expand the breadth and depth of materials they create and/or promote.
The platform launched at Rio+20 during the PRME Global Forum on June 15, 2012.
4. What is next for the working group and the repository?
The response to the platform has been amazing since before it was even launched! We have had quite a bit of interest, not just from faculty, but from different academic networks as well as the business sector, NGOs and local government. The project will start with a focus on teaching materials, and then later in the year, we will be looking at posting materials dedicated to research. In the near future, we would also like to explore the context and culture of management education generally and the hidden issues of gender within business and management education.
We will also have a session at the upcoming Academy of Management Annual Meeting in August 2012 focused on the PRME General Equality Working Group and Repository.
What is also exciting about the repository is that it could be used as a model for other disciplines and working groups to provide resources in their fields.
5. How can others get involved?
There are several ways that others can get involved in this project:
- Join the PRME Working Group on Gender Equality
- Provide resources that you use or that you have developed to be added to the repository
- Identify a new disciplinary subgroup and volunteer to coordinate it
- Join an existing subgroup
To join the Working Group, send an email to PRMESecretariat@unprme.org. For more information on the Global Resource Repository or to share resources, please contact Maureen (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Patricia (email@example.com). To access the repository visit http://prmegenderequalityworkinggroup.unprme.wikispaces.net/Welcome+to+the+Wikispace