TOP UNIVERSITY WEBSITES AND THEIR COMMUNICATION REGARDING GENDER EQUALITY

  • Siwaporn Sukittanon Faculty of Mass Communication, Chiang Mai University
Keywords: Gender equality, Diversity, Gender Equality in Higher Education

Abstract

According to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Higher education and universities are among many institutions where gender equality has been promoted. This research focused on strategies that leading universities applied to ensure the equality of men, women, and other groups. This study addresses two questions (1) To what extent the top universities impart gender equality in their organization websites? (2) What are economic and socio-political issues that are relevant to promote gender equality in the university environment?

Based on 2019 QS University Ranking, this research selected the top five universities of each region to examine their websites using the keyword analysis method. 25 university websites from America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa were included. The findings indicated that the sampling group was in the 1st – 530th top university ranking list. North America, Europe, and Australia are the locations where higher education institutes not only focused on gender equality but already expanded to diversity and inclusion. In these three continents, universities placed gender equality programs under the umbrella of diversity which embraced various situations causing marginalization. Diversity program emphasized on age, disability, race, religion, and belief, sexual orientation (LGBTQ+), reassignment, marriage partnership, and first-generation in college. Networking, collaboration, and national network to promote gender equality were also well established in North America, Europe, and Australia.

The five American universities represented America region was prestigious on the top 10 QS University Ranking. In America, the gender equity program was prevalent and offered to every level of college students, staff, and sometimes communities. Gender equality was a part of a broader term, diversity. In addition, women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) were in focus to increase women representation in science.

In Europe, universities from the United Kingdom and Switzerland were strongly committed to gender equality as a result of the Equality Act 2010 which required all universities in the United Kingdom to ensure gender equality in its campus. Each university was obligated to provide gender equality report to guarantee their achievement annually. Women in STEMM (the second M referred to Medicine) benefited from the Athena SWAN program (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) which was aimed to advance women's careers and increase women representation in STEMM.

In Australia, Athena SWAN was repeated to assist women in STEMM replicating its success from the UK. Several Australian universities provided the specific program to help women, ranging from giving the award to inspiring women, supporting women networks, offering public lectures and career advancement for women such as fast-tracking leadership programs for women.

In Asia and Africa, the gender equality program didn’t gain much attention. There are only two universities in Asia maintaining offices or divisions dealing directly with gender equity. In Africa, gender equality was less to be seen but sexual harassment prevention and violence against women were more communicated in their websites. However, the great number of these universities in Asia and Africa offered gender research centers, degree or academic courses involving gender, women studies center, and cultural diversity center.

It can be concluded that universities with a higher ranking in America, Europe, and Australia paid their attention and communicated their missions and values to advance gender equality. They also offered concrete activities on gender equality. In addition, law and regulation in America and European countries were effectively enforced among universities to ensured the human rights of every group.

Published
2020-01-12