SWIP UK Notice - 2nd September 2011

REF 2014

SWIP UK is concerned about changes to maternity provisionĀ  for the REF 2014 which are likely to adversely affect women academics.

We note that under the drafted panel criteria for REF 2014, a person may submit three rather than four outputs if their personal circumstances have reduced their research time by at least fourteen months. Under this proposal, an individual who has a new child during the REF period, and takes the standard six months maternity/adoption leave will not be eligible to submit a reduced number of outputs. Indeed, an individual who has two new children, and takes the standard six months maternity/adoption leave for each child will still not qualify.

SWIP UK thus believes that the drafted criteria do not adequately recognise the impact that a new child has on the research time available to its primary carer. In failing to consider maternity leave in particular, the provisions threaten to disadvantage women. Moreover, RAE 2008 did allow a woman who had taken six months maternity leave to submit a reduced number of outputs. These provisions were included in response to evidence of gender imbalance in RAE 2001. The drafted panel criteria for REF 2014 are thus a retrograde step.

SWIP UK therefore welcomes the revision to those criteria, suggested in paragraph 62 of the main document:

"In discussions with the REF panels, a possible alternative approach was identified to taking account of pregnancy and maternity: that staff who had periods of maternity leave during the assessment period may reduce the number of outputs by one for each discrete period of maternity leave, without penalty in the assessment. This alternative approach is based on the view that each period of maternity leave, and any associated constraints on work, is generally sufficiently disruptive of an individualĀ¹s research work to merit the reduction of an output."

But SWIP UK urges that the criteria be further revised to allow the number of outputs to be reduced by one for each discrete period of adoption leave, in recognition of the fact that adopting a new child is equally disruptive to one's research, and merits equal treatment by the Panel. Failing to do so would disadvantage primary carers of either gender.

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