I'm not sure I can really wear such heels...

Female academics would be aided by the introduction of gender-blind peer review and an end to the culture of compliant “good girls” in higher education, a conference has heard.

The argument was set out last week at a British Federation of Women Graduates colloquium on “female leadership in higher education”, at which Elaine Thomas, vice-chancellor of the University for the Creative Arts, paid tribute to the work of the now-defunct “Through the Glass Ceiling” network, which was set up in 1991.

It was about this time that she had become a dean of faculty, she said, and “truly entered a world of men in suits”. The leadership courses of the time were either militaristic or, when aimed at women, soft-centred, with participants asked to describe their favourite colours or goddesses, she recalled.

The network, by contrast, had proved a breath of fresh air, pinpointing role models and networks. It had also helped overcome low expectations, where women did not put themselves forward despite “seeing confident but mediocre men rising to the top”.

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