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Gender policy experts from universities and colleges across Scotland met this week to discuss progress towards gender equality and share plans for new initiatives.

The Scottish Funding Council’s 2020 National Gender Conference focused on a series of topical issues, including supporting survivors of gender based violence, challenging gender stereotypes in childcare and improving support for transgender students.

Speaking at the Conference, Dr Veena O’Halloran, a member of the Scottish Funding Council’s Board, said: “#metoo and Samira Ahmed’s successful pay claim for gender discrimination are stark reminders that gender equality is still a very real concern. Change is possible but we need to support universities and college to achieve that change.”

The conference was addressed by Professor Karen McCloskey from Queen’s University Belfast, an institution recognised internationally as a leader in gender equality.

In her keynote speech Professor McCloskey described gender action plans as the bridge between where we have come from and where we want to go. Noting that: “Culture can eat a gender action plan for breakfast” she went on to stress the need for a supportive and inclusive culture. She also spoke about the importance of “gender champions” to provide a hub of innovation and sustain gender action plans.

A recurring theme at the conference was the need for effective leadership and the Scottish Funding Council has recently established a leadership network for those responsible for Gender Action Plans in Scottish colleges and universities.