Women still earn only 85p for every £1 a man does, only 1 in 5  of our MPs are women, UK childcare is some of the most expensive in the EU and the ongoing gap in pay between women and men is 15 per cent (Fawcett Society).

Within the student movement women are the majority of students, staff and officers in students’ union’s, however the 2011-12 Diversity Survey has shown that the gender profile of senior managers and GMs/CEOs does not reflect the overall students’ union workforce profile and that women are underrepresented in senior management across the movement.

Women are also under-represented amongst elected officers in comparison to the student population in FE and HE. Similarly the gender profile of presidents does not reflect the overall profile of elected officers, with only one third of Student union presidents being women, again highlighting the barriers which contribute to women’s underrepresentation

The Equality Act 2010 states unlawful sex discrimination happens when someone is treated unfairly because of their gender. Women, men and trans people can all experience sex discrimination.

What NUS is doing to promote gender equality

Better support for student carers, who are disproportionately women and are disproportionately more likely to suffer financial hardship and face barriers to accessing education

  • Launched the first ever comprehensive research into the experiences of student carers in the UK on 18 September 2013
  • Supporting students' unions to campaign to improve the lives of student carers and campaign on a national level for fairer funding and support

Developing a national strategy to tackle lad culture on campuses and eradicate sexism from student culture

  • Supporting Student Unions to help shape a national strategy by feeding into our Lad Culture Consultation
  • Working with key Higher Education stakeholders to develop a strategy to make long term cultural change in student unions and Universities

Increasing the number of women leaders by tackling structural barriers e.g. through reserving places for women and supporting more women to be leaders in their student unions and wider society.

  • I Will Lead the Way Leadership Training
  • Muslim and Jewish Women Leadership Training
  • Training staff in students' unions to deliver women’s leadership training
  • Women in Leadership Conference
  • Mentoring Scheme for sabbatical officers
  • Mentoring for non-student staff
  • 50 per cent discount for Aspire webinars on women’s leadership



Aspire is the UK's premier coaching and development organisation for women and has over a decade's experience of working with more than 10,000 women leaders globally. Aspire provides a range of tools, including webinars, to help get women into a place where they can achieve their goals.

Aspire also provides NUS with free mentoring opportunities for women non-student staff.

To find out more about the mentoring opportunities and each webinar please sign up to the Inspiring Women Jiscmail.

Equal Pay

Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance help organisations implement equal pay. The range of information and guidance has been developed to suit different types and sizes of employer.

Gender equality guidance

The Equality and Human Rights Commission provides a range of guidance to support gender equality and tackle sex discrimination, on areas such as: gender equality rights publications, equal pay guidance and resources for employers and the Muslim Women Power List.

I Will Lead the Way

The NUS’ women’s leadership development programme I Will Lead the Way seeks to increase the number of women in elected leadership positions within the student movement. The site provides information on the programme as well as a range of data on women in the student movement and other sectors.

Inspiring Women Jiscmail

A mailbase for asking advice, sharing guidance, resources and hearing about NUS’ work on women in leadership, with other women within students unions. Information on Aspire webinars and mentoring opportunities will also be promoted via this Jiscmail.

Mentoring: progressing women's careers in higher education

Equality Challenge Unit guidance focusing on key factors in developing and delivering successful mentoring initiatives for women in higher education.

National Association of Women’s Organisations (NAWO)

An umbrella organisation for individuals and groups focused on making equality between women and men a reality and ensuring women’s voices are heard in national and international policy and decision-making.

Opportunity Now

Opportunity Now is the campaign on gender diversity from Business in the Community. Opportunity Now aims to increase women's success at work through promoting good employer practice offering case studies, research, events and projects for gender equality.

That’s what she said: Women students’ experiences of ‘lad culture’ in higher education (2013) - This report brings together independently commissioned research examining ‘lad culture’ in higher education, including both a literature review and a report of qualitative research with women students. It explores the way that ‘lad culture’ shapes women students’ lives both inside and outside the classroom.

The Fawcett Society

Campaigning organisation for women’s rights at home, at work and in public life. Through carrying out research, publishing reports and briefings and campaigning The Fawcett Society aims to increase awareness on gender inequality and put pressure on powerful policy and decisions makers to act.

What I See Project  - This Project is a global online exploration of what women see when they look in the mirror and aims to give a voice to women all over the world and showcase their thoughts on being a woman. Women can get involved in the project by uploading your views to the website or sharing your thoughts through film, a written piece, or photography.

If you're interested in writing a guest blog post, setting up an event or installation, would like to attend What I See events or even nominate an ambassador for the Project, contact them at:

Women in Leadership Conference 2013 Resources

At the NUS Women in Leadership Conference delegates received a list of various resources such as TED Talks, documentaries, books around women’s leadership. They were also given a set of inspiring quotes from famous women.

Women in Leadership Event Guide 2014 - To support unions' deliver their own women in leadership events NUS has created a Women in Leadership Event Guide, which provides tips and ideas for running your own event, as well as a range of case studies. 

Woman’s Hour 

A radio magazine programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4 weekdays 10-11am and Saturdays 4-5pm. Woman’s Hour explores a range of topics such as leading women in the news, politics, health, law, education, arts and parenting. The Woman’s Hour Power List showcases women who have had the greatest impact on British politics, society and culture.