Creation of a Gender Equality Unit/Office - provided with annual financial and human resources - acting also, as an in-house expert focal point and an advisory source to Departments

Problem (evidence)

Gender equality activities are scattered across the institution and take place as isolated activities led by individuals often uninformed by academic research and evidence-based approaches. Gender equality structures need to be developed to coordinate and oversee these activities to ensure better awareness and embeddedness of those across the university.


To lead, coordinate and embed gender equality and diversity actions at university level based on an evidence based, academic research-led approach.


  • Gender experts to guide the initial meetings to provide relevant up to date knowledge of research on gender equality issues
  • Members of the Taskforce recognised for their participation (allocated time in the workload)
  • Convenient space for meetings
  • Senior leadership
  • Administrative support
  • Representative membership – departments, career grades, academic and professional staff

Brief outcomes

Creation of the Gender Taskforce. The Taskforce is comprised of individuals at different academic and administrative grades across different departments at the University. The taskforce meets twice every term (3 terms), it has administrative support (minutes), and is led by senior academic staff member.

Tips/strategies – Lessons learnt

  • Be clear about the aims of the committee, who it reports to and what is its responsibilities.
  • Due to diverse membership, allocate time in initial meetings to agree definitions and what is meant when we talk about gender, sex, gender equality and state of art research

Key area

The governance bodies, key actors and decision-makers

Type of action

Creation of structures


Action level of implementation

Departments, staff, students


The Gender Taskforce at Warwick was established following 2 workshops on ‘Women in academia’ which was initiated by the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Provost. The PLOTINA project and the consequent availability of a relevant expert has been key in its establishment. Its membership was based on an open call for staff members to express interest in taking an active role. Each applicant had to submit an application as to why they should be selected as members of the Taskforce.


The Gender Taskforce aims to develop a strategy with a five year plan, building on the Gender Statement of Intent and to take a multi-faceted approach to implementation, being mindful of existing initiatives in the University, including Athena SWAN. The actions are developed in consultation with other members of the University and by scrutinising the data on gender in the academy to ensure transparency in all related matters.

The Gender Taskforce was established in October 2017 and meets twice termly, with its members serving as Departmental Taskforce Champions to act as a communication channel with the wider Warwick community.

Terms of Reference and membership

Membership of the Gender Taskforce consists of 15 core members, and includes various levels of seniority in both academic and professional and support staff. The Taskforce is led by an Associate Professor in the department of Engineering.

The Taskforce is responsible for the following: Developing a gender strategy and taking a multi-faceted approach to implementation, being mindful of existing initiatives in the University, including PLOTINA and Athena SWAN:

➢ Monitoring and reviewing gender data to identify areas of concern where action may be required to enhance gender equality in the working environment;

➢ Consideration of issues of strategic relevance, planning how best to address issues of concern and how best to optimise and disseminate current good practice, including, but not limited to, drawing on the existing research being undertaken at Warwick;

➢ Support the achievement of the University’s equality objectives, by raising awareness of gender equality and acting as a body of expertise on gender issues;

➢ Regular reports to the Equality and Diversity Committee, the Senior Executive Committee and other strategic University Committees on the work of the Gender Taskforce.

At the moment, the PLOTINA team is working very closely with the taskforce on the following issues: looking into how different data systems at the university can ‘talk to each other’ more efficiently so that data on gender and intersectionality can be extracted more easily; a dual career couple project; a project on reviewing promotions.


The members of the Taskforce come from different disciplinary backgrounds and despite initial efforts there is still different understandings about gender and gender equality. In addition, quite a few issues have been identified as important and there is confusion as to what should be prioritised.

Coping strategies

In order to address the above-mentioned challenges, there were a few meetings where issues were discussed, and the responsibilities and activities of the Taskforce evolved. PLOTINA has been instrumental in raising and addressing some of these issues and identifying synergies between the two. We have managed to connect PLOTINA goals with the Taskforce mission informing our actions and contributing to the Taskforce activities.


In its first year of operation, work by the Gender Taskforce included input to the gender pay gap reporting process in March 2018, and detailed recommendations to support revision of the academic promotions process to be implemented in 2018/19.

In February 2019, the Gender Taskforce team published a Statement with regards to an incident that took place in Warwick University, which included sexist comments.

What did not work

Different levels of knowledge, understanding and experience about gender equality issues hindered the Taskforce from being effective in producing collective responses.

Unintended consequences

A very positive unintended consequence is that Taskforce’s work has already being embedded in activities e.g. provide feedback on annual gender pay gap report and a new promotion process.