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Ambitions & priorities: Gender

Gender Action Plan

SFC has developed a Gender Action Plan (GAP) for colleges and universities in Scotland in line with Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy, our Letter of guidance and the Scottish Government’s Economic Strategy.

Widening access

Gender Action Plan: progress report

We have published our progress report which outlines the progress made since the Plan was published in 2016, highlighting key priorities for action in the coming year.

Gender National Conference

Since publishing the Plan, we committed to hold a ‘year on’ conference to bring together representatives from the sector to reflect on progress and share plans for improvement.

Delivering the plan

SFC supports institutions to tackle gender imbalance and inequality as set out in the plan. Here are some useful sources of information:

  • A key set of questions [PDF] to help develop institutional action plans.
  • A JISCmail list to facilitate sharing of good practice and discussion, particularly among those involved in the development and implementation of institutional action plans.
  • Details of events focused on the aims of the GAP.

Gender Governance Group

We have established a Governance Group to oversee the implementation of the plan. It will meet at least three times a year and its first meeting was in December 2016.

Anyone wishing to see papers from previous meetings, to attend the group or with queries about it, or the action plan, should contact Dr Matson Lawrence, email:

What do we want to change?

Many courses in both colleges and universities are heavily gendered; their students tend to be mainly men or mainly women. These courses are often those most closely related to particular occupations. They therefore have a significant effect on subsequent career options.

How are we doing it?

  • We have created our Gender Action Plan with stretching but realistic targets for colleges, as requested by the Commission on Widening Access.
  • We will use outcome agreements to set targets where there is an imbalance.
  • We will work with colleges, universities, other public bodies and equality bodies to identify what works and provide opportunities to share good practice.
  • We will build this into our work with colleges, local authorities, Skills Development Scotland and others on implementing DYW.

Our evidence base

We are working in partnership with colleges, universities and other organisations to ensure our action plan is based on a range of qualitative and quantitative sources. We have commissioned research to look at the different approaches to tackling gender imbalances at a subject level across Scotland.

How did we consult during the development of the GAP?

We consulted widely on our Gender Action Plan, with activities including our Gender Action Plan questionnaire; a consultation event; an open consultation. We are also consulting with employers, professional representative bodies and partner organisations.