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University of Limerick becomes first higher education institution in Ireland to win an Athena Swan Silver Award

05 Apr 2023 | Sarah Fink Limerick is among 14 Athena Swan award winners announced today by the Higher Education Authority and Advance HE in recognition of their progress in promoting gender and all forms of equality.

University of Limerick has become the first institution in Ireland to receive an Athena Swan Silver Award for its commitment to promoting gender equality.

Advance HE, which administers the awards on behalf of the sector, said the university had demonstrated real impact in ensuring more female academics and staff had been able to progress and achieve promotion within the institution.

 “University of Limerick has shown a deep-rooted commitment to delivering gender equality and that is shown in the comprehensive review it has conducted into the way it recruits and promotes its staff,” said Sarah Fink, Advance HE’s Head of Athena Swan Ireland.

“As a result, in the last three years, its number of female Associate Professors has more than doubled while its number of female Professors has increased by a third. Together with its appointment in 2021 of Ireland’s first female university president, the university has clearly demonstrated to us the transformational impact it is having as a result of its steps to addressing gender inequality.

A large group of people outside impressive building with a sign with University of Limerick and Athena Swan logos on it

Caption: University of Limerick Athena Swan Group members.

TWo women hold a sign with University of Limerick and Athena Swan logo outside impressive building

Caption: University of Limerick President Kerstin Mey, left, with Dr. Marie Connolly, Director Human Rights, Equality, Diveristy and Inclusion.

In addition to the University of Limerick, 13 other institutions and departments have also achieved awards for their work promoting equality for all.

Athena Swan Bronze Institutions

  • Maynooth University - renewed it Bronze Institutional Award, and
  • National College of Art and Design

Athena Swan Silver Departments

  • University College Dublin, School of Agriculture and Food Science
  • University of Limerick, Kemmy Business School.

Athena Swan Bronze Departments

  • Dublin City University, School of Physical Sciences
  • University College Cork, School of Clinical Therapies
  • University College Cork, Computer Science and Information Technology
  • University College Cork, School of Mathematical Sciences
  • University of Galway, Computer Science and Data Science Institute
  • University of Galway, School of Law
  • University of Limerick, School of Allied Health
  • University of Limerick, School of Education
  • University of Limerick, School of Medicine.

Bringing about cultural change

Dr Jennie Rothwell, Senior Manager at the HEA’s Centre of Excellence for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), said:

“Bringing about cultural change is one of the biggest challenges any institution can ever face and the HEA congratulates all institutions receiving Athena Swan Ireland awards today and who have committed to delivering gender equality in higher education.

“Through their critical self-assessment and Action Plans, Athena Swan Award holders have developed evidence-based strategies for creating a more level playing field for all genders. They provide exemplars that others across the sector can learn from and be inspired by.”

'Our commitment is longstanding'

University of Limerick (UL) President, Professor Kerstin Mey, said:

"UL has always led the way in pursuit of gender equality as is evident in my own appointment as the first woman president of an Irish university in 2020.

"To achieve a Silver Athena Swan Award an institution must demonstrate the impact of the committed actions in our previous submissions.

"This is evident in that 92 per cent of our academic faculties, schools and departments are recipients of Athena Swan Bronze Awards.

"While our commitment to gender equality is long standing, we know that there remain significant challenges to be faced to address gender equality across all levels and, very importantly, intersectional inequality.

"I am personally committed to fully integrating Human Rights, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion into our structures, actions, and culture and to dedicating resources to achieve this end. My vision for UL is to rebalance social progress within environmental constraints and become a truly egalitarian university.”





Find out more about Athena Swan Ireland here.

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