Our Projects

In the built environment sector, one of the world’s most significant challenges still prevails – gender equality. UCEM is proud to have won SIX externally funded research grants from the British Council, which will explore this topic and could influence and champion change for gender equality. UCEM is one of the most prominent universities to research gender quality when it comes to externally funded projects, and has now received five research grants from the British Council on this topic. What’s more, through partnerships with other universities based across the world, this project has effectively become a nexus of six countries collaborating to investigate gender equality in detail.

Research is vital and is an answer to many growing issues around us today but it is extremely difficult or sometimes impossible to pursue it without dedicated funds. Therefore, the 6 prestigious and very competitive grants that we have won from the British Council worth £150,000 on the extremely important topic of Gender Equality, specifically in Brazilian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Pakistani and Vietnamese education and industry sectors will ensure the projects are delivered in this complicated area along with capacity building to create awarenessa and wider impact in these countries. These projects will set up consortiums of critical stakeholders who will investigate, collect and analyse data from partner countries, publish outcomes, build the capacity of relevant people, and ensure that this project delivers substantial and lasting change in gender equality.

Ensuring a safe transition from higher education to empowerment for women in Pakistan through eliminating violence and creating safe learning spaces; Safe4All, Project value: £24,950 Partnership with International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI)

According to research by the UN, almost 1 in 3 women are affected by gender-based violence (GBV) in their lifetime. Pakistan faces a particular challenge to curb GBV – it ranks poorly on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2023, with 70% of women in the country experiencing violence. What’s more, the female workforce is limited to 22% due to the risk of sexual harassment and assault. This threat of violence and harassment, as well as the culture of masculinity, patriarchy and abuse in Pakistan, mean women are afraid to work outside the home. It also extends to their experience in educational institutions, with a report by Plan International finding that an estimated 250 million male and female students are subjected to acts of violence every year in various educational environments.

This project, led by Dr Muhammad Qasim Rana will look to increase the provision of education for women and establish secure learning environments, with the goal of facilitating women’s empowerment, fostering inclusivity and disrupting the perpetuation of equality in Pakistan. The project has started in Jan 2024 and will be finished by Jan 2025.

Challenging prejudicial attitudes and structures for career equality for women graduates in Brazil; Equal-Brazil, Project value: £24,900, Partnership with Universidade Estadual do Maranhão (UEMA), Brazil

Women in Brazil, while more likely to have attained a tertiary qualification, are less likely to be employed than men, according to a sobering report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The belief that completing a degree leads to better opportunities does not hold true for women in Brazil, and while the focus of the Brazilian government has been on providing access to education, support and measures of gender progress have yet to be explored.

This project, led by Prof Angela Lee aims to identify the challenges that women graduates face in the transition to employment, understand political, economic, social and cultural boundaries, and develop action plans to mitigate these barriers.

The project has started in Jan 2024 and will be finished by Jan 2025.

CAREER: Cultivating Awareness, Resources, and Equality for Educators in Vietnam, Project value: £24,950 Partnership with Can Tho University, Vietnam

According to the 2018 Global Gender Gap Report, Vietnam was ranked 77th out of 149 countries in gender equality (IMF, 2019). Vietnam has made notable strides in women's economic participation, with a narrowing gap between men and women in the labour force. However, gender inequality remains a persistent issue across Vietnam (Nguyen, 2021). Recognising the intersectionality of gender with other aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion (EDI) identities, the project seeks to create a more equitable educational landscape in Vietnam. The CAREER project, officially named ‘Cultivating Awareness, Resources, and Equality for Educators in Vietnam,’ has been carefully crafted to positively impact both economic development and social welfare in Vietnam, with a specific focus on pre-teachers.

The project has started in March 2024 and will be finished by April 2025.

Our Successfully Delivered, Previous Projects

Jordan 1
£24,600 for ‘Furthering gender equality in Jordanian higher education and leadership via societal and structural changes.’ In partnership with Philadelphia University, Jordan.

The inequality and inclusion of women in leadership of academics is a common problem worldwide. In the UK, the gender imbalance is severe at the executive management level (Davies, 2015), similarly women are underrepresented in university leadership roles (Morley, 2013). Across the sector, 27.5% of academic managers and 20.5% of professors are female, and only 17% hold the top vice-chancellor and principal roles. If the UK stats are bleak, the stats for Jordan are a wider cause for concern, something this research will aim to address.

The project has been successfully delivered with all its work packages, and is concluded on March 2024. Please read our publications about this project at:

Alshdiefat, Ala’a Saleh, Ahlam Ammar Sharif, Noor-Alhuda Mohammad Abu Ghunmi, Angela Lee, and Muhammad Qasim Rana. (2024). "Factors Impacting Women Gaining Leadership Roles in the Jordanian Construction Sector: Architects and Civil Engineers" Buildings 14, no. 4: 944. https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings14040944

Jordan 2
£23,950 for ‘Levelling up STEM! Towards gender equality in the pathways to Jordanian Higher Education and employability.’ In partnership with the Hashemite University, Jordan.

With a literacy rate of over 98% (World Bank, 2018), Jordan can proudly boast that it is one of the most highly educated countries in the region. UNESCO reported in April 2022 that the proportion of female students in the natural sciences, medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy was more than 60%; however the figure in other areas of STEM is disparate, with engineering being a low 28%. Whilst females are not restricted in curricular choice, somewhat tangible and intangible societal and cultural constraints impede work opportunities in certain disciplines. This piece aims to look at how gender equality in STEM areas can be improved.

The project has been successfully delivered with all its work packages, and is concluded on March 2024. Please read our publications about this project at:

1. Sharif, Ahlam Ammar, Alaa Saleh Alshdiefat, Angela Lee, Muhammad Qasim Rana, and Noor-Alhuda Mohammad Abu Ghunmi. (2024). "Gender Equality in Architecture and Construction: An Assessment Framework at the Institutional and Sectoral Levels in Jordan" Buildings 14, no. 3: 764. https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings14030764

2. Sharif, Ahlam A., Angela Lee, Alaa S. Alshdiefat, Muhammad Q. Rana, and Noor-Alhuda Abu Ghunmi. (2024). "Sustainable Gender Equality: A Comparative Perspective on STEM Education and Employment in Jordan" Sustainability 16, no. 6: 2273. https://doi.org/10.3390/su16062273

£24,600 for ‘Gender, education, and career; improving transitions for women from higher education to employment in Egypt.’

According to the Global Gender Gap Report (2015) and the World Bank (2016), thirteen out of the fifteen countries with the lowest rates of female workforce globally are in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It is estimated that this accounts for 27% of income loss due to the gap in female workforce participation. A study in Egypt remarks that while the country seems to have successfully prepared female engineers, the difficulty confronting these engineers starts after graduation when they are looking to enter the workforce (Adams & Miller, 2016). Therefore, investigating the factors that lead to this drop is crucial for understanding and tackling the problem to minimize the gender equality gap in Egypt.

The project has been successfully delivered with all its work packages, and is concluded on March 2024. Please read our publications about this project at:

Rana, Muhammad Qasim, Shadia Fahim, Mohammed Saad, Angela Lee, Olugbenga Timo Oladinrin, and Lekan Damilola Ojo. (2024). "Exploring the Underlying Barriers for the Successful Transition for Women from Higher Education to Employment in Egypt: A Focus Group Study" Social Sciences 13, no. 4: 195. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13040195