Why Gender and Equalities?

This post was first published in 2012 under the title ‘Why Engendering Policy and Practice’ as it originally related to that module within our PgCert Public Services Governance programme. Since then the programme has been expanded into a full MPA programme and the module has become a core module on ‘Gender and Equalities’. Here I explain the rationale for having a module on ‘Engendering Policy and Practice’ and more recently ‘Gender and Equalities’.

Firstly I should clarify that I am not an expert in gender equality. However, as programme leader of our former public services governance course and now co-director of the Edinburgh MPA, it is something that I recognise as fundamental to public service delivery.

The importance of gender equality might seem obvious to some people. But during the redevelopment of our postgraduate course some of the questions that were raised included: why is there a module on engendering policy and practice? Would this be relevant to international students? Why is gender inequality more important than other inequalities? Isn’t this a very niche topic for a public services programme?

1. Why focus on gender equalities?

This is a very good question. There are nine protected characteristics (including age, religion and belief, and sexual orientation) noted in the Equality Act 2010. Given that there are nine protected characteristics why focus on one?

Well, it is certainly not to suggest that some equalities are more important than others. Rather, this module is seen as a useful starting point for exploring some issues that are common across many inequalities. It does cover, for example, the broader scope of the Equalities Act 2010 and includes practical guidance on how to conduct an equality impact assessment.

2. Isn’t this a very niche topic for a programme in public services governance?

Engendering policy and practice is a generic issue – common to all those who work in the development and delivery of public services. In no way is this a less important issue than say, decision making or collaborative working. In fact issues of equality and gender often cut across these other important issues. As such there is a robust academic and practical case for having the engendering policy and practice module as an elective in equal footing with other elective modules within this programme  (NB the update below to account for this now being a core module).

For example, the Civil Service Code, which was placed on a statutory footing as part of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, states that the values of the Civil Service include impartiality which includes the responsibility that all civil servants: “carry out your responsibilities in a way that is fair, just and equitable and reflects the Civil Service commitment to equality and diversity“. In the UK Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 sets out the public sector duty to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. There are also legal duties listed with the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011.

3. Gender equality may not be a subject of relevance to international students.

Gender equality has long been a key goal for international bodies such as the UN and EU. The UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) set out this expectation in 1979. The Millennium Development Goals, agreed by all 193 UN member states, includes the commitment to promote gender equality and empower women. Today the UN Sustainable Development Goals maintain a commitment to Gender Equality not only as a basic human right but also as a crucial aid to accelerating sustainable development.

More recently the EU Article 13 Equal Treatment Directive (2008) makes it clear that all governments and government agencies, including non-public sector organisations who deliver public services within the EU27, have a duty to uphold and promote equalities. Finally, the World Bank World Development Report (2012) focused on the issue of gender equality and development; highlighting continued gender inequalities and the need for governments internationally to address this through appropriate domestic policy as well as through international development.

4. Finally, why is there a module on engendering policy and practice?

Even if there was not such a robust de lire case setting out the responsibility to promote equalities through all public service activities there would be a de facto case for the inclusion of ‘engendering policy and practice’ in this programme at Queen Margaret University. That is, that promoting equalities and social justice is a common thread in all our activities. As stipulated in Our Values, we will uphold certain values such as ‘social responsibility towards all of the communities we serve, demonstrating respect, care, social justice, equality and fairness’. Our university was founded by Christian Guthrie Wright and Louisa Stevenson in 1875 with the principal goals of promoting educational opportunities and career prospects for women, as well as improving the health and wellbeing of the working classes.

Consequently our postgraduate programme includes a module on ‘Engendering Policy and Practice’ alongside modules such as ‘Internal Communications’; ‘Leading Change in Public Services’ and ‘Managing Customer Complaints’. More on these modules to come in later blogposts.

For more on the links between gender and inequality a useful starting point is Carol Craig’s excellent book, The Tears that Made the Clyde.

UPDATE (Post updated on 04/02/2016)

With the development of our new Master of Public Administration (MPA) programme we have built on the experience of our module on ‘Engendering Policy and Practice’ by including a new module on ‘Gender and Equalities’. Exactly the same rationale as above applies. What’s more, I’m delighted to say that this new module is CORE – not optional.

I’m proud that our university – that was started by women, for women, is the only university to have an MPA with a core module on Gender and Equalities. So all our students will be required to consider gender and equalities as part of their wider study of public administration, management and governance.

For more information on our new MPA see ‘What is an MPA‘; the course leaflet; and some further resources on FindaMasters.com.

Public Services Governance

A new programme has just been developed at Queen Margaret University.

The Postgraduate Certificate in Public Services Governance is a one year programme that has been developed to support those who are currently charged with delivering public services.

Modules on the programme include:

  • Public Services Governance: Themes and Issues (Core)
  • Public Finance
  • Leading Change in Public Services
  • Managing Customer Complaints
  • Engendering Policy and Practice
  • Internal Communication

As programme leader for this course I will be blogging about some of the programme content and related subject matter. The course is due to commence in September 2012. For more information, or to apply, click here.

Why You Should Tweet!

  1. Share
    I will #livetweet on use of twitter in research next Wed at 1215. Using #phdtweet. Please join in. More info to follow. #highered #loveHE
    Fri, Apr 20 2012 05:03:39
  2. Share

    Fri, Apr 27 2012 08:24:29
  3. My initial tweet on the subject attracted a lot of interest and was RT’d several times including by Guardian Higher Education.
  4. Share
    RT @ian_c_elliott: I will #livetweet on use of twitter in research next Wed at 1215. Using #phdtweet. Please join in. More info to follow. #highered #loveHE
    Fri, Apr 20 2012 05:25:18
  5. Share
    Thanks to everyone for your interest in the #livetweet #phdtweet event and for your RTs. More to follow next week. #LoveHE #highered
    Fri, Apr 20 2012 07:58:43
  6. In advance of the presentation I posed a few questions so that others could participate in the discussion. Tweets using the #phdtweet were displayed live on screen during my presentation. The questions and a few interesting responses are listed below.
  7. Share
    #phdtweet Q1. How has twitter helped you with literature searching?
    Mon, Apr 23 2012 06:51:11
  8. Share
    @ian_c_elliott Continually distracted me. Occasionally led to something useful. Allowed me to stalk favoured writers.
    Mon, Apr 23 2012 07:55:28
  9. Share
    @ian_c_elliott I’d say it’s helped me make contacts that have led me to new literatures #phdtweets e.g. @DrDaveOBrien & @Localopolis
    Mon, Apr 23 2012 09:26:57
  10. Share
    @ian_c_elliott I search for and collect tweets relevant to my case studies – many politicians and all public agencies tweet #phdtweet
    Mon, Apr 23 2012 09:39:33
  11. Share
    #phdtweet Q2. Has anyone used twitter to help with data collection? #highered #LoveHE
    Mon, Apr 23 2012 09:56:51
  12. Share
    @ian_c_elliott I’ve sourced many participants from twitter – general (members of the public etc.) & specific (certain professions etc.).
    Mon, Apr 23 2012 10:00:50
  13. Share
    #phdtweet Q3. How can twitter help with dissemination of research findings? #highered #LoveHE
    Mon, Apr 23 2012 10:39:00
  14. Share
    @ian_c_elliott absolutely brilliant for dissemination. Got twice as many hits as avg. for: http://bit.ly/II0iiS thanks to @amcunningham
    Mon, Apr 23 2012 10:54:41
  15. Share
    @ian_c_elliott re Q3 #phdtweet @QMUeResearch tweets automatically when new papers are put into it. A small thing, but hopefully helpful.
    Mon, Apr 23 2012 11:32:02
  16. Share
    #phdtweet Q4. How can twitter help with career development for early career academics?
    Wed, Apr 25 2012 03:38:32
  17. Share
    @ian_c_elliott Q4 opens up so many opportunities to work w/ those outside your uni, good way to learn about how unis “work” too #phdtweet
    Tue, Apr 24 2012 10:22:36
  18. Share
    @ian_c_elliott gave confidence to even consider doing PhD, &in response to other q, you can see beyond yr immediate surrounding #phdtweet
    Tue, Apr 24 2012 10:26:21
  19. Share
    #phdtweet Tweeting can help find co-authors & perhaps lead to an award-winning paper: http://bit.ly/f6FFI6
    Wed, Apr 25 2012 07:15:00
  20. The presentation was to be recorded for iTunesU but unfortunately technical problems meant that the recording did not work. However my slides are available here: http://storify.com/ian_c_elliott/why-you-should-tweet
  21. During the presentation lots more suggestions were made as to how Twitter can help with the development and dissemination of research such as this tweet from Brian Kelly:
  22. Share
    #phdtweet A tweet can take you to Catalonia! http://bit.ly/dNQlmW
    Wed, Apr 25 2012 07:30:03
  23. As well as the fairly instrumentalist rationale set out in the main body of my presentation I also highlighted what I believe to be the moral case for use of social media by academic researchers.Queen Margaret University was founded with the aim of extending educational opportunities – specifically to women who in Victorian Britain were excluded from Higher Education. Today social justice remains a key part of what we do. In addition, the creation and sharing of knowledge is ultimately what academia is all about.

    Twitter, and social media in general, provides new ways to both create and share knowledge. As such we should all consider how these new tools can help. I really like the following blog post from Brian Kelly on this subject:

  24. Share
    #phdtweet Do you want to observe the world or change it? If the latter, Twitter can help: http://bit.ly/IkDp6J
    Wed, Apr 25 2012 09:00:11
  25. Following my presentation there were a number of questions including how to reference a Tweet and the discussion continued through the afternoon.
  26. Share
    hears question on referencing tweets. Yes it can be done – just another source of information #phdtweet
    Wed, Apr 25 2012 08:01:22
  27. Share
    @ian_c_elliott @QMULRC Doesn’t a reference need to provide info that allows validation (e.g. a link)? or doesn’t this matter with tweets?
    Wed, Apr 25 2012 08:48:03
  28. Share
    @Localopolis @QMULRC useful guide available here: http://www.mla.org/style/handbook_faq/cite_a_tweet
    Wed, Apr 25 2012 08:39:04
  29. I believe there are great benefits to PhD students in engaging with Twitter. I would recommend that you get an account and, as a starting point, search for the #PhDchat. You will find it easy to make contact with other PhD students and academics.
  30. Share
    @qui_oui yes, #PhDchat is a really good resource. I would highly recommend it to all PhD students. #phdtweet
    Fri, Apr 27 2012 09:41:55
  31. A lot of people have asked if there will be another #livetweet event – perhaps one focused on use of Twitter for learning and teaching activities. This is something I would certainly be interested in facilitating if there is sufficient interest.Watch this space!


Having read many blogs for quite a few years now I have finally decided to start my own.

The purpose of this blog is really to provide a site for personal reflections on my research, learning and teaching activities. By making this public I am hoping to stimulate some debate. This will (hopefully) lead to further discussion, debate and learning.

Things that are likely to feature include:

  • Strategy
  • Operations
  • Public Services
  • International Business
  • Learning and Teaching
  • Higher Education
  • Social Media

That’s the plan anyway!