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Gender Action Plan

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

Widening access

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:


We have been working with Advance HE to pool together resources to help colleges and universities to improve their plans. Gender Resources [PDF] provides links to policy guides and projects across the five themes of Infrastructure; Influencing the Influencers; Raising awareness and aspiration; Encouraging applications; and Supporting Success.

Gender Governance Group

The group meets at least three times a year to oversee the implementation of the plan. You can view meeting papers from the Gender Governance Group meetings.

Anyone wishing to see meeting papers from 2018 or earlier, attend the group or with queries about it, or the action plan, should contact Rachel Adamson, 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 so have a significant effect on subsequent career options. Tackling gender imbalances will require a collaborative effort across all national and local education partners.

Getting the gender balance right

How are we doing it?

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.


Interventions which address gender inequality should also adopt an intersectional approach to reflect the multiple forms of disadvantage members of a group may experience.

Intersectionality is the understanding that social inequalities are mutually constituting: ‘race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nation, ability, and age operate not as unitary, mutually exclusive entities, but rather as reciprocally constructing phenomena’ (Collins 2015:2).

Intersectionality recognises that social inequalities interact, so people’s identities and social positions are shaped by multiple factors. Among others, a person’s age, disability status, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, religion or belief, sexual orientation and socio-economic background contribute towards their specific experiences and perspectives. Intersectional perspectives recognise that understanding the experiences of, for instance, black disabled students, requires understanding how the combination of race/racism and disability/ableism creates specific circumstances. This is different from understanding race and disability separately. (ECU, 2017)

Further information