2015-Carole Elliott

Gender and Diversity in Management Education


This study conducted a survey examining the prevalence of gender and diversity descriptors associated with the content of UK business and management degrees using module descriptions on business school websites. A descriptive statistical analysis of the distribution of gender and diversity topics across programmes and HEIs was undertaken in addition to home nation location, affiliation, and accreditation in respect of variables. To expand on the categories of quantitative analyses we conducted interviews with representatives of HEIs that returned both high and low scores in an attempt to explain the differential curricular visibility of gender and diversity topics. The study focussed on university websites because of the role digital technologies now have in providing information to prospective students.   

The survey’s findings confirm the low visibility of gender and diversity on the public facing web content of business and management degree courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The quantitative analysis of the results, which checked for university affiliation and mission, accreditations, and country/fee effect at undergraduate level, did not suggest any underlying structural explanation for the differences. The follow-up qualitative stage interviews did, however, suggest a number of drivers behind the prominence (or absence) of gender and diversity in the curriculum. Where gender and diversity as a feature of the curriculum was publicly visible it was attributed to the actions of committed individuals, conscious institutional choices, and initiatives such as Athena SWAN. Where gender and diversity content were absent or unacknowledged, respondents suggested that some institutions kept public curricular information general so as to not create contractual expectations about content or preferred to brief students verbally at Open Days about more specific content. 

We conclude that given institutional consciousness is raised – although not always actioned – by accreditation activity, including a curricular commitment to gender and diversity as well as a managerial commitment as part of accreditation by bodies such as EQUIS, AMBA, and AACSB, would provide useful leverage to increase the visibility of these important social issues within business and management degrees.