A University of Glasgow leader has admitted a female academic "passed over for promotion" was let down by the institution.

Jeanette Findlay, whose application to become a professor of economics was rejected by the university in 2020, claims she has been the victim of direct and indirect discrimination.

The employment tribunal heard from Professor John Finch, 54, Head of the Adam Smith Business School, who oversees promotions in the department.

Cross-examined by Ms Findlay, Prof Finch said he was aware in 2020 that she had spent several years in a learning and teaching role but admitted that no action was taken after she requested mentoring help to progress.

Addressing Ms Findlay he said: "I didn't support you effectively" and later agreed she had been treated unfairly.

Professor Jeanette Findlay is suing the University of Glasgow, claiming she was overlooked for promotion due to indirect and direct sex discrimination

He said mentoring was important, specifically in the case of female academics because of "under-representation."

Prof Finch said he made a “deeply regrettable oversight” by not including details of her leadership experience in his first reference statement, which was reviewed by the board who rejected her application.

At the hearing yesterday he agreed the chances of becoming a professor were “low” for academics who are not backed by their line managers.

He aknowledged that men were more likely to "enjoy careers in research" but said the allocation of work was "consistent to all colleagues".

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Prof Finch told the tribunal that he didn't think Ms Findlay met the impact category of the promotions application process in 2020, which measures the reach and significance of research output. 

Ms Findlay accused the departmental leader of exaggerating the achievements of her male comparator and he admitted that he may have failed to recognise some of her own.

Professor Jeanette Findlay is suing the University of Glasgow, claiming she was overlooked for promotion due to indirect and direct sex discrimination

He defended a decision to appoint a marketing specialist to review her application after it was rejected and a "world-renowned" economist to provide feedback on a male applicant.

He said she was selected for the "breadth of her experience." 

During the hearing the judge admonished Prof Finch and Lesley Cummings, who is instructing the solicitor on behalf of the university, after the witness looked over at her during questioning and she appeared to motion to him to agree to a line of questioning.

Prof Finch said he was aware that the number of female professors in the department of economics was 11% in 2020.

He said he had been given training by the university in bias and equality and diversity which included sex discrimination and was asked what the school had done to address the gender imbalance.

He said they had taken steps to ensure there were female candidates on shortlists and expanded the number of leadership roles within the school.

In her final questions, Findlay told Finch: “I was treated unfairly in respect to mentoring. I was failed [by the statement] in terms of my caring responsibilities.”

Finch agreed and said: “It was unfair.”

It comes after the university's HR director admitted that the promotion system may be skewed against women.

Christine Barr, the executive director of people and organisational development at the university said the accolades framwork used to decide which staff are awarded a professorship "might be subject to gender bias."

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Ms Findlay said she had spent more than seven years at grade 9, earning £55,000 to £65,000 - and argues that the criteria use to decide promotions often requires working after hours and travel and is more difficult for women with caring responsibilities.

She said she had been dealing with "challenging personal circumstances" to do with her mother that had not been considered by the board that reviewed her application.

Ms Barr admitted there was "potential gender bias in the esteem criteria" but insisted that an equality impact assessment found "females outperform males" in most areas of academia.However, she said the positive trend "tails off" at more senior levels.

Last week the principal of the university, Professor Anton Muscatelli, agreed it was "shameful" that women made up only 11 per cent in economics.
The tribunal continues.