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International Women's Day
Campus Life Series: Research Spotlight

International Women’s Day: Is Parity Possible?

In March 2016 City University London hosted a panel debate chaired by ITV’s Penny Marshall

by Sophie Cubbin (PR and Communications Manager)

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In 2016, the day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

On Tuesday 8th March, three leading academics from City University London gathered to talk about the research they are engaged in around the issue. 

At the event, chaired by Penny Marshall, Social Affairs Editor for ITV News, they will discuss whether gender parity is possible and if so, how it can be achieved - is the situation improving in certain areas, will there be a sticking point and what could or should be done to break through the barriers?

The panel:

Dr Amanda Goodall is Senior Lecturer in Management at Cass Business School.  Amanda’s research looks at leadership and organisational performance. Her central argument is that leaders should have a deep understanding of the core business of the organisations they lead. She says:

“Parity is possible when power is more equally shared.  There is growing evidence that having a women boss is good for other women.  But are enough women willing to throw their hats into the leadership ring?  

“The research suggests that women are under-confident about winning, whereas men are over-confident; women are more risk averse than men in some settings; and, women are reluctant to enter competitions. So, how can we encourage more talented women to compete for these leadership positions?”


Professor Lis Howell is Director of Broadcasting at City University London. Lis is also founder of the Expert Women on News campaign which aimed to increase the representation of female experts on broadcast news.  The most recent research has found that the campaign has been successful with the ratio of male to female experts moving from 4 to 1, to 3 to 1.

“The results are astonishingly good news and show that the campaign to get more women experts used in news programmes has helped to change the industry. However, women are still not being used enough by flagship shows in this country and it is clear that more work needs to be done.

“ITV News at 10 has seen a dramatic 22 per cent fall in the proportion of female experts which is shocking and, with the negligible progress of BBC News at 10, it raises the question, why are the two big beasts still like this?


Dr Ruth Sealy is Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Organisational Psychology at City University London.  Ruth has been heavily involved in the campaign to increase the proportion of women on the Boards of FTSE companies.  She has been the lead researcher of the annual Female FTSE Report since 2007.

“We know from two decades of research across Western developed economies that despite more highly qualified women coming into the workforce, gender balance in corporate leadership is unlikely to occur “naturally”. The proven ample supply of female talent implies a demand-led problem, which points to ethical tensions and dilemmas regarding the role of business in society. The sub-optimal use of female talent in the workforce can be described as a market failure. In capitalism when there is a market failure intervention is justified to correct it.

“The gender board quota is such an intervention, employed by an increasing number of countries (15 so far).  The quota is a radical change agenda which is often misconstrued and ill-informed, usually invoking emotional rather than rational responses. In fact, shouldn’t quotas be considered to be a very rational last response to an intractable problem?”

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