Jeanette Findlay responds to criticism of UCU’s role

Professor Jeanette Findlay was elected President of the University College Union (UCU) after serving as Vice President for a number of years.

In May last year, UCU members were asked to support a motion against “gender critics” and “transphobes”.

The Glasgow academic said she had made “no secret” of her opposition to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), passed by MSPs just before Christmas, which simplifies the process of obtaining a gender recognition certificate by eliminating the need for a gender recognition certificate medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria omitted.

Joanna Cherry KC, an outspoken critic of the bill, was among those who took to social media to congratulate Prof Findlay on the appointment, writing: “Congratulations. I am confident that you will stand up for the many lesbian and feminist members who have been expelled from the union for failing to speak out against belief and sexual harassment.”

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dr However, Kate Davison, a University of Edinburgh Lecturer and UCU Member who is a sex historian, wrote: “I trust that despite your personal views you will stand by the official UCU position on trans rights

Prof Findlay, Professor of Economics at the University of Glasgow, replied: “Like any living being, I have personal views on many issues, but if asked I will say what UCU’s position is on each issue, if that is the case you ask.”

Speaking to The Herald, she said the fact that she was elected chair by a clear majority suggested members were confident she would be able to put her own views aside if she did union and represent the workers.

“I’m not pro-self-identification, but I’m not one of the flag-bearers,” she said.

“I think people should be able to go about their lives and not be discriminated against and we should take care of people in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean you can violate women’s gender rights.

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“I think the vast majority of people fall into that category [of having that view].

She added: “This issue has been put before all other things, which is very damaging and you are not allowed to discuss it either. There is no debate.”

Prof. Findlay will take office as President of the UCU at the end of May.
During her time as vice president, she has lobbied politicians and civil servants for more funding for the further education and higher education sectors and said she hopes to narrow the gender pay gap, which disproportionately affects women from minority ethnic groups or people with disabilities.

She said: “ONS data for 2022 shows a 9.9% gender pay gap, but there are disparities within the sector.

“This gap can be larger for women with disabilities or from minority ethnic groups.

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“I would love to see our union address this not only in national campaigns like the one we are running now, but also by supporting industries to partner with local management to make real changes that make it happen that women are treated equally in the workplace.”

She said she also wanted a “major devolution” of powers from the UCU at national level to the union’s Scottish contingent.

She said: “Having a UK union gives us more strength but there are some decisions that are better off being made at Scottish level as we have a different education system with many different and unique characteristics.

“Allowing some decisions to be made at UCU Scotland level will increase our effectiveness in areas such as industrial action and education policy.”

Last year, Prof Findlay lost her battle against gender discrimination against the University of Glasgow, but the institution has been asked to review its promotion procedures.

She claimed that her application for a professorship in economics was rejected by the university on grounds of direct and indirect sex discrimination, but the court ruled against her.

While the full panel dismissed Prof Findlay’s claim, the university was advised to review its mentoring, career development and academic promotion policies.

The tribunal was told that as of January 2020, no woman had ever been promoted to a chair in economics at Glasgow University in the entire history of the university since it was founded in 1451.

Professor Anton Muscatelli said during the hearing it was “shameful” that so few women were being promoted to senior positions within the institution. Jeanette Findlay responds to criticism of UCU’s role

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