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EIT is “balancing for better” – not only on International Women’s Day

March 8, 2019

On Friday EIT celebrated International Women’s Day. We talked with some of the women in senior roles about what EIT is doing for females to “balance for better”, the theme of this year’s campaign.

With 58 percent of students and 63 percent of staff being female, women are in the majority at EIT. Rather exceptional is the fact, that half of senior positions (heads of schools and executives) are held by women.

With a lot of these women being mothers or even grandmothers, their main concern is to empower women.

“We have a lot of women in responsible positions and we want to foster a family friendly environment. We appreciate that all parents need to prioritise care for their families, says executive director, Jo Blakeley, and that this role often falls to women,” adds Mandy Pentecost, Assistant Head of School of Education, Social Sciences and Vet Nursing.

Working mums at EIT also feel supported. “When my kids were sick, I was able to work from home and my team would understand that,” says team leader Lee Olsen.

“My daughter is a new mum and works at EIT too. She was able to come back part-time. It’s great that we have that flexibility here,” says Diane Friis, manager of the information and learner services.

With EIT having Ōtatāra Children’s Centre on campus, parents (staff and students) are able to have their children close by and well taken care of.

EIT is a breastfeeding friendly campus, however mothers can also take time out in the cultural support room to breastfeed. Students tell us that tutors and lecturers are very understanding and supportive when it comes to challenging situations in regard to juggling both study and family.

Clare Buckley, Head of School of Nursing, however, is trying to attract more men into programmes in her school. “I would like to see more men considering nursing as a career. The profession would need gender balance.”

Nursing, teaching and hair-dressing are not a women only career just as engineering or IT is not only for men. “We have to think about that too when it comes to gender balance,” Clare says.

On top of this women still earn less than men. “The correlation between money and value is skewed. Why should a nurse or a teacher earn less than those in male dominated roles,” says Jo.

Kirsten Westwood, Head of School of Health and Sport Science and mother of three children, is fighting against the gender pay gap. She tries to empower women during recruitment processes. “Women with the same or better qualifications as men, tend to ask for much less money and not for what they are worth.”