Women are disadvantaged by the system which grades university researchers, says the Association of University Staff (AUS).
Data released by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) shows nearly three times more men than women received an A rating in the 2006 Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF).
The PBRF system scores all academic and research staff with an A, B, C or R. This, in turn, determines how much funding an institution receives.
The 2006 PBRF results were released on 4 May 2007, assessing the research performance of 8076 staff in 31 tertiary institutions over the previous six years.
AUS Women’s Vice President Maureen Montgomery told The Press she was disappointed that the gap between the average PBRF scores for men and women had remained nearly identical to that in 2003. In 2003, women had an average score of 1.85 out of 10 and men 3.24. In 2006, women received an average score of 2.23 and men 3.62.
A much higher proportion of men hold senior academic positions, and male staff have typically held academic positions for longer than their female counterparts. Women currently make up only 16.9 per cent of professors and associate professors at New Zealand universities.
Montgomery said there are a number of reasons why the average quality scores of men are higher than those of women, including the expectation for universities to produce a continual output of research, and the different types of research undertaking by each gender.
Victoria’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Neil Quigley declined to comment on the gender issues raised within the PBRF, until a further review was provided by the TEC.
“Victoria has hired a lot more women in the last ten years than the previous, and one of the things about PBRF is that it takes time to build up a track record that would allow (them) to be an A,” says Quigley.
Victoria ranked fourth in the 2006 PBRF round. University of Otago ranked first, followed by University of Auckland, and Canterbury University.
Deliberate PBRF game-playing was recently exposed by the New Zealand Education Review, showing Massey University had attempted to skew their PBRF submissions. The TEC later announced three other institutions had done the same.
Quigley says Victoria is “definitely not” one of the three others.