Universities awarded 14 of 20 Posts approved under phase 1 of the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative

The IUA welcomes the approval of the first 20 posts under the SALI Initiative. We are particularly pleased that our seven member universities have each been awarded two positions in this first phase.

IUA universities are fully committed to working with the Minister and the HEA to promote gender equality across the sector as part of a broad-based equality, diversion and inclusion agenda.

Irish Times Article

Irish Independent Article

Dept of Education Press Release

Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. Minister of State with special responsibility for Higher Education today (3rd January 2020) announced the approval of 20 posts at professorial-level in higher education. This announcement is being made under the Minister’s Senior Academic Leadership Initiative, the goal of which is to accelerate progress in achieving gender balance at the senior academic level in higher education institutions.

SALI is an innovative and transformational positive action initiative being implemented across higher education alongside the Gender Action Task Force championed by the Minister and launched in 2019. The posts now being announced were approved by an expert international assessment panel chaired by Professor Lesley Yellowlees, CBE, Professor in the Chemistry Department of Edinburgh University.

Recruitment into these posts which will now be initiated by the relevant HEIs. The recruitment process in each HEI will take place to the highest standards of assessment, evaluation and rigour consistent with the seniority of the professorial-level posts to ensure the quality and excellence of the appointments made in due course.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “SALI is an international best practice example of the innovation and indeed ambition required to drive the delivery of gender balance objectives in our society. We know that the excellence of our female academics and their vast contribution to research and education has not yet resulted in an appropriate level of representation of women at the highest levels. This initiative is supporting higher education institutions that are already taking proactive steps to address gender imbalance to take a leap forward in this area, always with ‘excellence’ at the heart of recruitment and promotion policies.”


Institutions and Posts approved under phase 1 of the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative

Dublin City University
Professor in Computer Science (Natural Language Processing)
Professor of Plasma Physics

Maynooth University
Professor in Physical Geography in the area of Climate Science (Adaptation and/or Mitigation)
Professor in Computer Science in the area of Software Platform Architecture and Society

National University of Ireland, Galway
Professor of Engineering
Professor of Older Adult Health

Trinity College Dublin
Chair in Political Economy
Chair in Mathematics

University College Cork
Professor of Irish Gender History
Professor of Microbiome and Health Science

University College Dublin
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Professor of Materials Chemistry

University of Limerick
Professor of Data Science and Statistical Learning
Professor of Genomics and Biomedical Sciences

Technological University Dublin
Professor of Public Trust in Media, Arts and Technology
Professorship in Inclusive Computer Science

Institute of Technology, Carlow
Director of Engineering Research and Innovation

Athlone Institute of Technology
Dean of Graduate Studies and Research

Cork Institute of Technology
Chair of Cyber Security

Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
Senior Professor (Physics)

Additional Notes

A key objective of SALI is to strengthen gender diversity at the senior leadership level within HEIs and to encourage the benefits that such diversity can deliver.

The 2018 Report on Higher Education Institutional Staff Profiles by Gender, which has now been published by the HEA, shows that, while in the university sector some 51% of lecturers were female, only 24% of professors were female. In the institute of technology (IoT) sector, some 45% of lecturers are female, but only 36% senior lecturer positions were held by female.

Analysis carried out by the 2018 Gender Taskforce on the estimated rate of change suggested that with the continuation of current recruitment and promotion practices, it could take up to 20 years to achieve an average of 40% females at professor level in the university sector.

The Taskforce recommended that new and additional gender-specific posts, at appropriate levels, as well as other positive action measures, where they would be a proportionate and an effective means to achieve rapid and sustainable change, should be considered.

SALI has been designed and implemented on the basis of the consistency of the initiative which has been confirmed by the Attorney General with national and EU employment law.

Additional funding has been provided in the Department’s Budget to enable this Initiative to commence. The additional cost for the professorial posts in universities / senior lecturer 3 level posts in IoTs will be some €1.5m in 2020, growing to some €4m in 2021.

To secure additional posts under this initiative, one of the key requirements of the higher education institutions is that they have a gender action plan in place and can demonstrate that they are progressing their gender equality objectives and targets to achieve real organisational and cultural change.

This Initiative is a targeted positive action which aims to accelerate gender balance objectives at senior academic leadership levels in Irish higher education institutions. These twelve institutions will now commence their recruitment processes, and it is expected that these posts will be in place before the start of the next academic year.

This first call for applications to the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative was issued by the Higher Education Authority to institutions in June of 2019. An international Assessment Panel was appointed to evaluate the applications received. The Assessment Panel consisted of 10 members, with gender equality expertise, as well as broad disciplinary and strategic level expertise.

A total of 18 institutions submitted applications under the process, and these were individually assessed by Assessment Panel members. The Assessment Panel then met on the 28th November, at which an independent process auditor was also present. A total of 12 institutions have been approved for these Senior Academic Leadership Initiative posts under Phase 1 in such areas as Computer Science, Mathematics, Biomedical Engineering and Physical Geography in the area of Climate Science.

Information on the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative is available on the HEA website at https://hea.ie/funding-calls/senior-academic-leadership-initiative/

Copy of the HEA 2018 Report on Higher Education Institutional Staff Profiles by Gender available here: https://hea.ie/assets/uploads/2018/01/Higher-Education-Institutional-Staff-Profiles-by-Gender-2018.pdf

SALI Assessment Panel

Professor Lesley Yellowlees (Chair), CBE – University of Edinburgh

Eilidh Fraser – Abertay University

Patrick Johnson – University of Manchester

Dr Helen Peterson – University of Gothenburg

Marissa Herder – Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science

Professor Knut Liestøl – University of Oslo

Professor Peter Main – King’s College London

Dr Carl Jacobsson – Swedish Research Council

Professor Chantal Davies – University of Chester

Professor Tomas Brage – Lund University