Professor Paul Layzell was criticised after making controversial comments about Royal Holloway’s gender pay gap, revealed by the Time Higher Education to be the seventh worst in the country.
The Time Higher Education’s (THE) reports revealed that there is a 10% gender pay gap for full-time professors at the university, with female professors at Royal Holloway making £7,812 less than their male colleagues.
At a staff meeting shortly after the figures were revealed, Paul Layzell claimed that ‘there are certain protected groups where there is a natural tendency to not have a go and put themselves in for promotion – sometimes that’s gender, sometimes it’s the BAME group’.
Professor Paul Layzell was quick to defend his comments, and in a statement sent to Get Surrey he expressed disappointment that his comments were ‘taken out of context’.
He said: ‘In the meeting, I explained RHUL’s commitment to supporting colleagues to reach their promotion potential by pioneering a number of initiatives.
‘One of these is an award-winning programme to tackle equity in relation to the academic progression of women.
‘This programme is having a positive impact. Since it started, three years ago the number of women in the most senior grade for a professor, has increased from 5.6% to 19%.
‘With more women in senior academic positions, we will achieve a more representative balance of genders in the higher professor grades.’
Many were left unimpressed with Professor Layzell’s comments, with one member of staff telling Orbital magazine that it was ‘an example of everyday sexism’. Labour MP for Wirral South, Alison McGovern, expressed on Twitter: ‘Another clever man here determined to blame the gender pay gap on anything except bias.’
Members of the University College Union (UCU) also claimed that some female employees at RHUL had no choice but to quit their jobs in order gain equality.
A spokesperson from UCU said: ‘UCU is aware of female and minority ethnic staff who have left the college to gain the recognition they deserved as outstanding researchers and teachers.
‘We need to consider, with an open mind, how we can retain these scholars for the benefit of our students.’
In response to these comments, a spokesperson from Royal Holloway stated, ‘As one of the first colleges to provide higher education for women, Royal Holloway, University of London, is committed to championing equality and diversity for students and staff.
‘Our approach to pay and promotion is both fair and transparent however, we recognise that there is more that we, and the sector, can do to tackle the causes of inequality. In response, for some years now, Royal Holloway has been making changes to processes and procedures to minimize barriers to promotion’.
A number of students have since called for fellow students to boycott the Principal’s Annual Student Reception, outlining their argument in an open letter.
Rosa Smith, News Editor