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Improved gender equality in Irish higher education recognised by Athena SWAN awards

25 Oct 2019 | Advance HE Twenty-one higher education institutions and departments in Ireland have been awarded an Athena SWAN Bronze award for their commitment and action to improve gender equality.

The awards were conferred on 24 October 2019 at a ceremony in Dublin, kindly hosted by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

Since the Athena SWAN Charter was launched as a pilot in Ireland in 2015, 37 Bronze awards have been achieved in 11 institutions and 26 departments.

Victoria Brownlee, Athena SWAN Programme Manager for Ireland at Advance HE, said,

“These 21 new awards, achieved by universities, Institutes of Technology, Colleges, Schools and departments, are testament to the breadth of engagement with the Athena SWAN Charter in Ireland and the commitment to use the application process to progress gender equality.”

Speakers at the ceremony included Dr Ebun Joseph from RSCI and University College Dublin, who told the stark truth about why it is so important to be conscious of race in Athena SWAN. She made the point that it should not only be for White women but focus on a range of EDI initiatives within Irish HE.

Dr Derek Wann from Athena SWAN Gold department Chemistry at the University of York told the audience why it is important to have buy in from male advocates to achieve and retain the award.

Dr Ioana Latu from Queen’s University Belfast highlighted her research into the psychology of gender imbalance and what the implications are for Athena SWAN.

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD presented the awards. The Minister has special responsibility for higher education in Ireland and has championed the advancement of gender equality through a Taskforce. She knew many of the institutions and individuals awarded and encouraged them all to aim for Silver.

Four institutions and 10 departments were awarded Bronze in the November 2018 assessment round and seven departments were awarded Bronze in the April 2019 assessment round.

November 2018 Awards Institutional Awards:

Cork Institute of Technology (Bronze) Good practice: The inclusion of full costings for the action plan initiatives, which includes dedicated Athena SWAN staffing.

Institute of Technology Carlow (Bronze) Good practice: EDI will be incorporated formally into the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum as part of the Faculty Programmatic Reviews.

Trinity College Dublin (Bronze) Good practice: The Milky Way project that supports breastfeeding parents.

University of Limerick (Bronze) Good practice: Research grant for returning academic carers which provides support for protected research time, or for a research assistant.

Departmental Awards:

Maynooth University, Department of Biology (Bronze) Good practice: A suite of actions to address student concerns about wellbeing and work/life balance.

Trinity College Dublin, School of Chemistry (Bronze) Good practice: Comprehensive analysis of news items on the website with associated policy for checking gender balance.

Trinity College Dublin, School of Natural Sciences (Bronze) Good practice: Collection of data on the workload model to ascertain if there is a gender difference in workload distribution.

University College Dublin, School of Agriculture and Food Science (Bronze) Good practice: School charter on work/life balance identifying what a healthy culture looks like.

University College Dublin, School of Archaeology (Bronze) Good practice: The 'Alternative Histories' project, which provides a more inclusive presentation of the school's history with posters highlighting key female figures.

University College Dublin, School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science (Bronze) Good practice: Cross school mentoring programme to pair administrators with counterparts in other schools.

University College Dublin, School of Veterinary Medicine (Bronze) Good practice: Plans to create a 'Sense of the Community' committee to consider how to increase the sense of belonging in the school.

University of Limerick, Graduate Entry Medical School (Bronze) Good practice: Exploration of the development of a conversion programme to para-medicine for nurses, which aims at increasing female representatives in the practitioner entry programme.

University of Limerick, Kemmy Business School (Bronze) Good practice: The inclusion of Athena SWAN in the school's workload allocation model (WAM), and a commitment to using the WAM process to acknowledge work on influential committees.

University of Limerick, School of Allied Health (Bronze) Good practice: The creation of a central spreadsheet for each discipline to ensure the gender balance of visiting lecturers, as well as staff participating in the school's seminar series and research day.

April 2019 Awards Departmental Awards:

Maynooth University, Department of Geography (Bronze) Good practice: Competitively awarded paid summer internship to an undergraduate student to assist with data collection and analysis.

University College Cork, Department of Business Information Systems (Bronze) Good practice: Students assigned to small groups to meet faculty for coffee several times during the academic year.

University College Cork, School of Food and Nutritional Sciences (Bronze) Good practice: Introducing visiting school children to the Athena SWAN principles.

University College Dublin, College of Engineering and Architecture (Bronze) Good practice: Introducing staff to inclusive teaching practice to address perception of engineering as sexist.

University College Dublin, School of Biology and Environmental Science (Bronze) Good practice: Local policy enabling expectant fathers to attend all antenatal appointments, in line with the allowance for female staff.

University College Dublin, School of Medicine (Bronze) Good practice: Organisation of cover during parental leave, which will also create teaching opportunities for post-doctoral researchers.

University of Limerick, Department of Mathematics and Statistics (Bronze) Good practice: Work with Epi-STEM to understand the reasons for comparative under performance by girls in Leaving Certificate higher-level mathematics with an associated PhD project.

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