Header photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Some of the key questions we’ll be looking at in the early stages of the Institute are:
Is there something wrong with the way we currently do diversity?
Policy and initiatives to create gender-equal environments are often lacking in evidence, and where evidence does exist it can be very difficult for decisions makers to access, meaning that the considerable time and money organisations are spending on them may be being wasted or actively doing harm. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that some of the most popular forms of diversity programmes are at best ineffective, and at worst produce a backlash that can have negative consequences.
We will undertake a programme of work to systematise and make accessible the evidence on the structural barriers and facilitators to women’s leadership, as well as developing and testing new evidence-based approaches.
Why are women more likely to lead countries in Rwanda, news organisations in Estonia, courtrooms in Slovenia and tech companies in Malaysia?
While women are underrepresented across leadership positions globally, there are significant national differences which do not follow predictable patterns. Women make up 61% of Rwandan MPs, 78% of Slovenian judges, 57% of top-level news managers in Estonia, and around half of IT professionals in Malaysia. While the raw figures obscure key country-specific differences, it’s clear that there are cases where learning from other countries is currently not being harnessed.
Our work will aim to understand how the experiences of other countries that are more successful in promoting women to leadership positions can be translated, and will develop mechanisms by which experts can better share their knowledge across national boundaries.
How can we get men and boys to join in the fight for gender equality?
Gender equality initiatives that fail to engage with men can only go so far. Men still dominate positions of power, and, as the recent #MeToo movement has shown, their behaviour has profound effects on women’s careers and success. Some research suggests that diversity initiatives which focus only on women, such as women’s networks, are held up as markers of progress by male leaders, without driving real change. Equally, men have much to gain from initiatives that seek to challenge gender stereotypes
We want to explore how men can be engaged more effectively as agents for change in the fight for gender equality.