Gender Equality in Irish Universities
Gender Equality has been a significant sectoral EDI priority, highlighted by the Report of the HEA Expert Group in 2016, and the subsequent publication of the Gender Taskforce Report in November 2018.
These reports set out several key recommendations for the sector, and in order to optimise the inputs from a wide range of stakeholders across the system, it is essential that these, and other activities relating to the EDI agenda, are coordinated across universities with ideas and best practice shared by member institutions.
To ensure sustainable progress towards gender equality, both the HEA Expert Group and the Gender Equality Taskforce recommended reviews of progress at the end of the lifespan of their recommendations. In line with these timelines, the HEA has subsequently undertaken a Second National Review of Gender Equality in Irish HEIs.
The second review was completed and reported in December 2022. The second review report recognised significant progress on gender equality in many areas, and in the context of sustaining progress, issues some specific recommendations arising from its review, while also endorsing the approach set out in the earlier reports and stressing that work should continue on the implementation of those recommendations.
Our gender equality agenda is supported by a dedicated accreditation scheme, Athena SWAN, which was developed by AdvanceHE (UK), and introduced to Irish HE in 2015. Today, the Charter has been adapted and refined to the Irish Higher Education context, and all eight IUA universities have attained Athena Swan a minimum of Bronze status, which is a key indicator of progress on equality and diversity.
SAGE Charter/Research Projects
The IUA has formally endorsed the SAGE Charter of Principles for Gender Equality which supports structural, cultural and political change to eradicate sexism, bias and other forms of discrimination in research and higher education.
TU Dublin – GenderEx
Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (SALI)
The Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (SALI) was launched by Government in 2019 following analysis carried out by Ireland’s Gender Equality Taskforce in 2018, which revealed that 52 per cent of lecturers in higher education, but just 27 per cent of professors, were female. One of the Taskforce’s recommendations was the creation of new and gender-specific posts at appropriate levels that would create rapid and sustainable change in the representation of women in the senior professor grade.
Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment
In 2019 Dept. of Education launched a Framework Policy document for Higher Education entitled: ‘Safe, Respectful, Supportive and Positive – Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish Higher Education Institutions’.
The IUA has devised a set of guidelines to support universities in developing and adapting their policies to ensure an effective response to reports of complaints of sexual misconduct, and is working with universities, the HEA, and other partners on an ongoing basis to assist universities in implementation of institutional action plans to end Sexual Violence and Harassment in Higher Education.
IUA’s Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion is Tony McMahon