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The Athena SWAN Ireland National Committee responds to the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative

21 Jun 2019 | The Athena SWAN National Committee welcomes the launch of the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (SALI).

Dublin, 21 June 2019: The Athena SWAN National Committee welcomes the launch of the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (SALI) as it is in line with the Athena SWAN Charter commitment to addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines, and the specific underrepresentation of women in senior academic roles.

The attainment of 31 institutional and departmental Athena SWAN awards in Irish Higher Education since 2015 has developed the sector’s understanding of appropriate measures to achieve gender equality in Higher Education Institutions. The SALI, which creates new and additional gender-targeted posts will further work to achieve accelerated and sustainable change within Ireland’s higher education institutions. These posts are to be targeted specifically in areas where there is clear evidence of significant gender under-representation and where the appointment can have a substantial impact within the faculty/department/functional unit and in the institution itself.

Commenting on the launch of this new initiative, Professor Yvonne Galligan, Director Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Technological University Dublin notes that “The SALI is a very welcome initiative in the Irish Higher Education landscape. It will shift the dial in relation to gender in senior leadership positions in our universities and institutes of technology. I look forward to the SALI intervention changing the culture so that gender equality is a normal, routine expectation and practice in our third level institutions”.

Professor Kathleen James-Chakraborty, Professor of Art History, UCD, who in February became the first woman to receive the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal, has also welcomed the SALI, commenting that ‘As a group, female academics in Ireland continue to face significant gender bias including in promotion and in being mentored and selected for senior roles. Introducing new and additional posts targeted at areas where there is an under-representation of women will help move people who have been overlooked into positions in which they can inspire and encourage students and younger scholars. It will also diversity the voices around the table when important decisions regarding the future of Irish higher education are made”.

Dr Andrew Power, Chair of the Athena SWAN National Committee, stated “We actively support this initiative and are committed to promoting the advancement of underrepresented groups in Irish Higher Education. The committee will continue to support the HEA and individual higher education institutions to embed equality and diversity in the daily activities, policies, processes and procedures of Irish higher education”.

Notes to Editors

The Athena SWAN National Committee supports the strategic development of the Athena SWAN Charter in Ireland. The Committee was established in 2015 to advise Advance HE on how the Athena SWAN application and assessment process could be tailored to meet the higher education context in Ireland.

The Committee continues to steer the strategic development and expansion of the Athena SWAN Charter in Ireland, and functions as a conduit between Advance HE and Irish higher education institutions. The Committee is currently chaired by Dr Andrew Power (IADT), with Dr Avril Hutch (RCSI) as Vice Chair. 

The Committee’s membership is comprised of one nominated representatives from HEIs in the Republic of Ireland, representatives from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Irish Research Council (IRC), Irish Universities Association (IUA), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Heath Research Board (HRB), Technological Higher Education Association (THEA), and advisory representatives from Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University.

The Senior Academic Leadership Initiative is one of the key interventions set out in the Gender Action Plan 2018-2020 which was developed by the Gender Equality Taskforce, set up by Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Andrew Power, Chair, Athena SWAN National Committee,


Dr Victoria Brownlee, Athena SWAN Programme Manager,; +44 7387 26134.

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