Following the recent rescue of her three new friends from the deadly vacuum of space, and her recollection of who she is, the Doctor is looking forward to new faces, new worlds and new times. Her trusty ship, the TARDIS, whirls through time and space, swerving exploding supernovae and sliding between parallel universes. However, she hasn’t yet remembered how to steer the TARDIS, and so it plummets through a wormhole to arrive in Alexandra Square at Lancaster University on 26th July 2018.
Surveying the external scene on the scanner, the Doctor wonders what they are doing in this 1960s brick-and-concrete landscape, then gasps in horror. There is a Gender Pay Gap! The group of companions demand an explanation – will their teeth be extracted and stuck on anyone’s face? No, this is not as glamorous or exciting as a blue-faced alien tooth-pulling hunter of humans, but a monster that slowly strangles women by denying them equal pay for the same work as men. The Doctor points to the screen – apparently, this place has a Task Group that’s fighting it – let’s go and help them.
Yasmin, Ryan and the Doctor burst out of the TARDIS, and start making their way towards Lecture Theatre 4 in the Management School, whilst Graham lags behind bemoaning the lack of alien excitement and wondering why this place they’ve arrived in is a building site. It takes them 20 minutes to make a 5 minute journey, including following Design the Spine diversion signs in a circle round Edward Roberts Court until they achieve escape velocity near the Deli. They finally arrive just as the presentation is beginning, and slide in at the back and make themselves inconspicuous.
As the presentation winds up the Doctor presses a button on her makeshift sonic screwdriver and freezes the other people in the room in a bubble of spacetime as she and her companions huddle round for a discussion. I can’t believe that out of 32 Band 3 Professors at the University only one is a woman, says Yasmin. What’s wrong with that, asks Graham, and gets a icy stare from the Doctor. And there’s more male senior professional services staff than female, points out Ryan. So what, asks Graham, who shuts up and wanders off to stare out of the window when the other three glare at him at once.
They all agree that the Task Group analysis that ‘where the money and status is at LU, women aren’t’ is largely correct, and yes, the overall problem identified, that female staff are clustered in lower grades, male staff in high grades, is also true. It’s been a while since I was last a woman, says the Doctor, but this is getting worse over time. Listen, I think I remember that I used to work at a university, leave this to me.
With a sound like foghorns squabbling underwater, the bubble of frozen spacetime begins to disintegrate, and the audience is asked for questions. Dr Jane Smith of the Foundation for Advanced Temporal Calibration And Transportation Studies steps forward to take the microphone. It’s a crying shame about the professors and senior professional services staff and all that, but according to my sums that’s a lot fewer people than the 936 women in Grades 6 and below. Wouldn’t the most sensible, equitable and immediate way to reduce the gap be to raise the wages of the lower paid staff? And then work on smashing the patriarchy?
As the Task Group insist that they will be looking at as many options as they can, but they have limited resources, Graham turns from the window, his face white with fear: Doctor, you’d better have a look out here. A bevy of barnacled compost bins decorated with plungers are floating down from the clouds. The Daleks are here! The Doctor spins her sonic screwdriver around and slips it back into a pocket. This problem will be a lot easier to solve.
You can find links to the presentation and audio of the first open staff meeting to discuss the Gender Pay Gap here [staffwall].
STOP PRESS: A second open-staff meeting has been announced for Thurs 18th Oct, more info here [staffwall].