“Absent data, absent women”: Gender and higher education leadership

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The study of the position, status and experience of women academics has in recent decades attracted a great deal of scholarly attention. The literature is characterized by what might be referred to as the ‘absent women’ discourse, namely the underrepresentation of women in the highest positions in the sector, and is dominated by research conducted in the West. It is key, however, to look beyond the Western academy and not make assumptions about the status, position and experience of women academics in other contexts, or to assume that priority is given to gender equity universally. A key aspect from a policy perspective and in relation to supporting the advancement of women as academics is data: the absence of adequate, publically accessible data results in higher education sectors not being open to scrutiny. The purpose of this article is two-fold: first, the issue of absent data in the East Asian context – using Hong Kong as an example – is discussed. Second, the article presents large-scale empirical data generated by the authors to show that women academics are woefully underrepresented in all levels of leadership in the Hong Kong Academy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-274
JournalPolicy Futures in Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


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