Published on 29 Jan 2023

What universities are doing to level the playing field

Local universities like the National University of Singapore (NUS) now extend by up to a year the tenure clocks of academics who have children.

The university also grants faculty members with children relief from teaching duties for up to a semester, said NUS' vice-provost for academic affairs Tulika Mitra. She was responding to queries on what NUS is doing to help even playing the field so that more female academics can rise through the ranks. A tenure clock is a six- or seven-year probationary period that an academic goes through to earn a permanent position at a university.

Said Professor Mitra: "NUS is always on the lookout for female staff members with the ability and potential to undertake leadership roles, and these outstanding female staff members are appointed based on merit to contribute in various leadership positions at the university, faculty and department levels. "The university also organises and participates in various workshops and programmes to advance women's role in academia."

Such policies are among the strategies universities here use to help female staff advance in a traditionally male-dominated field.

Nanyang Technological University is also working on building supportive communities where women can meet and see more senior role models in action. Professor Christina Soh, vice-president for strategy and leadership development and Nanyang Business School dean, said: "There are formal leadership development programmes where there are a good proportion of women academics among the participants, and senior women academic leaders among the facilitators and mentors."

Prof Soh added that many have found this helpful, and it has built a sense of community. "Women with young families also need time, so we've extended tenure clocks for women who have had babies."

Other equal-opportunity policies implemented in universities include the Singapore University of Social Sciences' merit-based talent development framework.

The Singapore University of Technology and Design told The Sunday Times it implemented an academic leadership appointment policy to give men and women an equal shot at senior leadership.

Source: The Straits Times