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Furthering gender equality in higher education in India

A research study to further gender equality in higher education in India 

The Department of Education, Brunel University London, in partnership with the Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Women’s Studies Centre, Savitribai Phule Pune University, India, has been awarded a British Council research grant ‘A research study to further gender equality in higher education in India’.

The research study will be led by Prof Maria Tsouroufli and Dr Anagha Tambe as Principal Investigators, with Dr Ourania Filippakou, Dr Swati Dyahadroy and Dr Sneha Gole as Co-Investigators, Dr Gunjan Wadhwa as Postdoctoral Research Fellow, and Prof Rajeshwari Deshpande as Research Advisor.

Indian higher education, as in other emergent post-colonial contexts, has witnessed an increasing trend of female participation due to various interventions. However, attainment of gender equality at different levels of access, retention, employability, curriculum and social inclusion remains elusive, more so with widening inequalities in the context of internationalization, public/private provision, and digitalization of Higher Education. In India, the overall participation of women in higher education is showing steady improvement and a tapering gender gap. There are however widening disparities among women from different social groups—caste and religion, region—rural and urban, and by economic groups classified by monthly per capita household expenditure. Moreover, the disparities among women from different social groups, who are multiply disadvantaged, are greater compared to men in the same social groups. 

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a significant step in this direction and realisation of India’s commitment to international development agenda such as the Sustainable Development Goals. It is in this context that this research is located, with its focus on access, the experience of campus, retention, and inclusion of gender in institutional practices as significant to successfully realising gender equality policy.

The study, conducted jointly by Brunel University London and Savitribai Phule Pune University, will analyse the working and success of the Indian National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, with reference to the achievements of the UK higher education. It will focus on access, campus climate, retention, and inclusion of gender in curricular and institutional practices in India. The research will be conducted in five states in India selected on the basis of the socio-economic diversity of the regions, their gross enrollment ratio and gender parity index. It will achieve an in-depth investigation of the multiple marginalities, which exist in the socially differentiated Indian context and impact the achievement of gender equality goals.

The objectives of the study include:

  • A comprehensive policy assessment involving various stakeholders’ translations of education policies into best practice
  • Analysis of gender inequalities to address gendered intersections of language, caste, class, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, geographical location
  • To build on best practices in the UK and India and develop gender equality audit tools/frameworks for national implementation to establish sustained UK-India partnerships.

The research study will be conducted from April 2021 to March 2023, with total funding of £220,067.

We have also received additional funding of £40,000 from BC India to conduct action research projects on gender equality with HE educational institutions in India and support dissemination.  

This proposal seeks to expand the project in terms of:

  • Support the participating institutions to conduct small action- research studies focused on the questions of gender equality specific to their institution
  • Build research capabilities of women researchers and early career faculty from humanities and social sciences through research workshops
  • Develop dialogue and networking amongst scholars and institutions across South Asia and the Global South/North on the question of Gender Equality in Higher Education through an international conference to be held in Pune towards the end of 2022/beginning of 2023 depending on COVID19 restrictions
Event details
Join the Special Lecture online on 28 March

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Professor Maria Tsouroufli
Professor Maria Tsouroufli - I am Professor of Education at the College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences. Previously I worked as Reader in Women and Gender at the University of Wolverhampton. My research is concerned with social justice with a particular focus on gender inequalities in education and professions.  I am a transnational feminist academic and my applied social research aims to advance theorizations of gender and gender equality in the Global South.  My intersectional study of identities is underpinned by post-structuralist approaches and is centred around 4 themes with violence as a cross-cutting theme: educational policy inlcuding medical educational policy, decolonization of international partnerships; emotionality of difference and disembodiment of EDI discourses in HE; internationalization and academic migration;  and critiques of white mainstream feminism.

Related Research Group(s)

diversity (1)

Interculturality for Diversity and Global Learning - Challenging conventional attitudes and practices and promoting respectful and effective intercultural communication, cross-cultural intelligence, diversity and inclusion, within a world that is increasingly interconnected digitally.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 17/11/2023