Discrimination row university secures equality accreditation

NUI Galway’s Athena SWAN award recognises ‘energetic and sustained’ efforts to improve

May 17, 2018
Source: istock
Creating a more welcoming environment at NUI Galway

An Irish university that was at the centre of a gender discrimination row has achieved a diversity award after making “energetic and sustained” efforts to improve.

The National University of Ireland Galway has faced criticism since it emerged that only one of 15 women who sought promotion to senior lecturer in 2008-09 had been successful. In 2014, Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, a former lecturer at the institution, won a landmark equality tribunal case against the university for discrimination.

One lecturer, Elizabeth Tilley, was promoted after taking the university to an employment tribunal, while four other women – Adrienne Gorman, Róisín Healy, Margaret Hodgins and Sylvie Lannegrand – are continuing to pursue legal action against the institution.

Times Higher Education reported in October that the four felt pressured to settle the case amid concerns that failure to achieve recognition under the Athena SWAN equality charter would block access to research funding.

However, the university has now achieved a bronze-level Athena SWAN award. This follows the introduction of initiatives including gender quotas for promotion schemes, unconscious bias training for managers, and leadership development programmes for female staff.

Anne Scott, Galway’s vice-president for equality and diversity, said that she was “delighted” to have secured the accreditation.

“It recognises the energetic and sustained work in recent years to address equality challenges in the university,” Professor Scott said. “However, we recognise that we are still at an early stage in this important journey.”

Irish universities must achieve bronze-level Athena SWAN accreditation by the end of 2019 if they are to continue to be eligible for funding from the Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council and the Health Research Board.


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