10 senior posts for women approved in bid to close Irish academic gender gap

29 Nov 2021

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To increase the number of women in senior positions in Irish academia, there will be new roles in higher level institutions across the country.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, has announced the approval of 10 senior academic roles for women in a bid to close the gender gap in higher level institutions.

This is under the second phase of the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (SALI), which was launched in 2019 with the aim of achieving gender balance at the senior level in Irish academia.

The new roles, to be filled in seven institutions across the country, were approved by an international assessment panel chaired by Prof Chantal Davies of the University of Chester. Further posts may be approved from a reserve list in 2022.

This brings the number of positions awarded under SALI to 30, after 20 professorship roles were approved in January 2020.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) 2021 Report on Higher Education Institutional Staff Profiles by Gender showed that in December 2020, only 27pc of professors and 52pc of lecturers in the university sector in Ireland were women.

In the institute of technology sector, only 36pc of senior lecturer positions were held by women, despite making up 49pc of total lecturers.

Analysis carried out by the HEA Gender Taskforce in 2018 suggested that it could take up to 20 years to achieve an average of 40pc women at professor level in the university sector.

“This initiative is one of a number of actions in the 2018 Gender Equality Taskforce Action Plan aimed at bringing about sustainable organisational change and empowering a culture of gender equality in higher education institutions,” Harris said.

“These posts will not only have a significant impact in terms of gender equality, but they will also contribute to wider societal goals through research and education.”

The Government has provided an additional €1.5m in Budget 2020 and 2021 to support SALI, with an additional €1.9m secured through the estimates process in the 2022 Budget.

The remit of the HEA’s centre of excellence for gender equality was expanded in August 2020 to cover all areas of equality, diversity and inclusion.

The new roles for women academics are:

Technological University Dublin

Professor of innovation and sustainability in engineering, construction and built environment

University College Dublin

Full professor of pharmaceutical engineering and full professor of sustainability geoscience

University of Limerick

Chair of biochemical engineering and chair of digital engineering

Dublin City University

Full professor in sustainable finance

Maynooth University

Professor of intersectional humanities and professor of observational astrophysics or cosmology

University College Cork

Professor of quantum technology

NUI Galway

Professor of chemistry

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic