The UCU Women Members Standing Committee (WMSC) met on Friday to discuss the forthcoming UCU Women´s Conference on Friday 9th November. The theme of the Conference is raising women´s contribution and activity in UCU campaigns, getting women more involved and putting women members at the heart of UCU activity and activism.
Equality is central to UCU but is under attack, and key gains to women workers are threatened. There was a discussion around the need for the UCU website to give greater coverage of the effects of the cuts on equality issues, and on the response to this organized within the sector and from women´s rights organizations. This should include the effect on women students of the attacks on post-16 education.
The WMSC has concerns that women are currently under-represented in UCU constituted committees and there was a discussion of the need to ensure that equality is properly represented across the Union and its bodies and committees. Black women are especially under-represented and there is a need to ensure recruitment of women members. This is especially important among casualised poorly-paid staff, many of whom are women.
There was a full report on the lack of women and BME staff in HE professorial roles, and a study into the causes of this. The report will go to HEC and from there will be disseminated.
The WMSC noted with dismay that, in spite of Congress resolutions, current UCU publicity material still fails to address the disproportionate effect of the cuts on women. It was felt that stressing the effect of pay and pensions cuts on women members is central to the campaign work. It is essential that equality issues are addressed not only through internal structures but also through the Union´s industrial agenda.
At the Women´s Conference there will be workshops to discuss and support women members getting involved in UCU and branch campaign work, organizing younger / casualised women members and on the practicalities of undertaking campaign work.