Tag Archives: university website


Dear subtext,

In 2005/6 when I (as HoD) was trying to support an appeal by a female member of admin who had been downgraded by the job review that was supposed to bring equivalence to roles, I looked  through the internal telephone directory at the names of people who occupied similar grade roles that had not been downgraded. They were almost all male names and employed in University House roles. In departments where the pay was lower, the names were mostly female. The justification was that centralised roles undertook tasks that gained more points, mostly because they undertook centralised tasks!!

My observations were insufficient to challenge the gender neutrality of the job/pay review at that time. I’m pleased to see that gender pay differences is now more valued as an indicator of equality and fairness.

Bob Sapey



Dear subtext,

The so-called Gender Pay Gap is, in fact, a Sex Pay Gap and the efforts that the university are suggesting around maternity and childcare are woefully inadequate, the latter mainly consisting of signposting things that are already available (though in the case of preschool childcare, pretty inadequate – it’s impossible, for example, to get additional hours/days at the Preschool Centre if asked to work extra time by one’s department).

The pay gap is in place way before we have children. Women are less mobile due to tending to have professional partners (while men are more likely to have partners in more portable and less professional jobs, since men earn more than their partners across society). Lancaster could make it easier for women to take a job if they have a professional partner, and advertise this. We could make it more flexible to, for example, take a sabbatical or a non-sabbatical career break so partners can move temporarily together. I had a big struggle when I wanted to take two terms’ sabbatical because it was the right time for my husband and me – he’d just been made redundant but apparently ‘we don’t do that in Psychology, we only take a full year’. One male colleague on hearing this said ‘oh I suppose my wife just gave up her job when I went on sabbatical’.

Women have more other caring responsibilities, not just children. My husband and I needed to stay locally for a number of years – at a time when other colleagues were getting promoted by moving jobs – because my husband’s mother was elderly and needed care. Few men help with care of their mother in law because that’s not what they’ve been taught since childhood.

Travel for work is often impossible for women with caring responsibilities – I couldn’t really travel for the first couple of years after we had children and the only reason I can now is because my husband’s work has become more flexible, not my job (he’s gone part time through choice but also his employer has pushed and enabled working from home a lot more. There’s been no change at all in the help Lancaster has given and no substantial change in the availability of childcare). Even a full day travel is impossible for me (London and back in a day for example) if I’m relying on outside childcare. This means not only could I not go to conferences at first but I also couldn’t go to e.g. a government meeting or grant meeting.

Because of Lancaster’s location, talented postgrads who want to stay in the area have to move into a professional services job – there are few commutable academic jobs if you don’t get one in Lancaster. This is more likely to affect women – men just move for work, while women stay put with, as I’ve said, a professional partner, non-childcare responsibilities or children.

Women have always been taught (since birth and, these days, before) that they are supposed to be less assertive. Obviously if you’ve managed to get a job in academia, you must have managed to push yourself forward to some extent. We recently had an excellent small workshop on promotion for women but previously the University has run workshops where at one a female professor just told us ‘it’s easy to be a professor, you just have to publish a lot and get grants’ (I can hear the hollow laughter of men and women echoing round campus!) and at another senior women just said ‘oh I’ve never experienced any discrimination’.

From the moment the doctor says ‘It’s a girl!’ or ‘It’s a boy!’ society treats us differently – our sex determines what gender roles society thinks we should take, following a partner as a trailing spouse, not speaking up to creepy supervisors, not putting ourselves forward for keynotes and promotions, taking on caring responsibilities for older and younger people – and that in turn determines how much we are paid.

Katie Alcock



Dear subtext,

I concur with your evaluation of the Gender Pay Report.

I have received an ex-gratia payment of £1000, but I was told not to tell anyone that I’d received it. Apparently it might upset those who hadn’t got one. It felt cheapening at the time. No celebration there, then.

I sent my son to the Pre-School centre 25 years ago – it hasn’t been useful to me since. Indeed, its convenience has probably been instrumental in keeping people (possibly men as well as women) working at Lancaster longer than they reasonably should. At any rate, this and other childcare services, despite their longevity, do not seem to have had the impact on the career ladder of women in the past that the report bandies for the future.

Regarding the report itself, the graphs show annoying blue blocks (men) suffocating the beige (?) women at all levels of the organisation. Even in print there’s no level playing field.  The SS 1-5 ladies’ block is so small the corresponding number has to fit outside it, faintly out of step.

I’d sign this letter, but as the informal NDA mentioned above is probably still in force, I am, yours truly, Anon.

Name supplied


Dear subtext,

Noise!!! I have quite an interesting and long story to tell, of which I will spare you the details, about men drilling under my window ledge in Bowland North, me contacting Keith Douglas in Facilities as suggested by them, Keith assuring me on the phone that he had asked them to stop and schedule the noisy drilling 8-9 the following days, the men telling me that they could not take orders from him, and so on and so forth…

Drilling that shakes the floor and deafens your ears is great, especially if accompanied by shouting, swearing, bad singing, plus various types of machinery moving around, beeping, etc…

Never mind my work, but what about the students who are trying to do oral examinations, attend seminars, revise, talk to tutors, etc…

I just wonder whether, like last year, there will actually be noise during written examinations just outside the exam rooms…

Thinking of it, I wrote a similar comment in May 2015, and I thought about writing more every year since then…

Michela Masci

Department of Languages and Cultures


Dear subtext,

My own recollection of the Jim Bowen performance, which was in approximately 1997 or 1998 and which I witnessed, is not particularly close to the account given in subtext 176. He performed in the Bowland quadrangle, not the bar, on a stage set up for the extrav that evening, for which he provided an opening act. The JCR President was on the stage with him and was the only one present who appeared to find it amusing, although he admitted afterwards that in fact he had not been listening to Bowen’s act! That consisted almost entirely of racist anti-immigrant ‘jokes’. These might have been suitable for a 1960s white audience or a BNP convention, but were totally wrong in the context of a multi-racial audience of intelligent students, as he should have anticipated. It was a crass and stupid choice of content.

He was not booed off the stage (the Bowland students were much too polite for that), but there was no laughter and much audible muttering and cat-calling. Bowen clearly realised his act was going down very badly and cut the performance rather abruptly short and left the stage hurriedly. One of the audience threw a half glassful of beer at him as Bowen passed by, splashing the leather jacket the ‘comedian’ was wearing. He was very annoyed by this and asked me, as the College Principal in attendance, for the cost of having his jacket cleaned. I refused, telling him that his choice of subject matter was so clearly unsuitable and provocative that he should have expected even more of an adverse response and that he was lucky to get away with only that much damage. This was not well received, but we heard no more from him.

Ian Saunders


Dear subtext,

Regarding the picture on the university home page (see letter in subtext 176) – it must have been taken some time ago, since that area of the spine has been enclosed within steel barriers for what seems a lifetime but is probably about a year.

Olwen Poulter

Research and Enterprise Services


Dear subtext,

This picture on the University homepage is pretty poor and not inviting AT ALL. Subconsciously, it just does not work:


The main focus of the picture is the father figure and not the offspring who is on the visit day. Offspring is set back behind the tour guide and behind the parent. Offspring is looking at the ground. Do you really want Subway in the background of the home page? Thankfully the Chemist’s window is advertising hayfever tablets, could have been worse.

There are so many better backdrops for a photo to advertise the University via the homepage. Have the guide, the young person on a visit day (looking ahead), have the parents but not in the forefront and have a decent architectural backdrop.

Name supplied


Last December we responded on our Facebook page to a testy complaint from the HR Director that we had falsely claimed (subtext 170) that the VC sat on the Remuneration Committee – the same body that sets his own salary. We apologised profusely but pointed out that we had gleaned this information from the University’s own website. So we are delighted to announce that the relevant University webpage has at last been amended – a mere six months after Council hastily changed the Remuneration Committee, prior to the publication of HEFCE’s damning report on the same arrangement at Bath University. Lancaster’s management may lack the speed of response of an Anderson Quigley but they get there in the end – with a little help from subtext.


[This erratum was originally posted on our Facebook page a few hours after the release of subtext 170. We have more subscribers than ‘likes’, so in the interest of demonstrating the extent of our contrition, here it is for our readers to enjoy.]

A senior manager has emailed in to point out that information on the operation of the Remuneration Committee, which determines the VC’s salary, is incorrect. Contrary to what we reported in subtext 170, our Remuneration Committee has until recently had a co-opted member – the HR Director from Sotherbys (sic). Furthermore, at University Council earlier this year it was agreed to revise the membership for the Remuneration Committee. Also contrary to what we reported in subtext 170, the Pro-Chancellor is no longer the Chair, and the VC does not attend in any capacity.

The subtext collective is happy to publish this correction. We checked our story, but it was lax of us to do so by using a source as out of date, poorly updated and unreliable as, er… the University website! (https://tinyurl.com/y9kcglvq).

We could’ve been a little more diligent and checked the minutes of the last few Council meetings to confirm our report, but the fact that no Council minutes have been made public since last May made that somewhat difficult.