Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, who served as European Commissioner for research, innovation and science between 2010 and 2014, will lead a panel of Irish and international experts who will look at gender inequality at all levels of university staff.
Announcing what it called “a system-wide independent review”, the Republic of Ireland’s Higher Education Authority said that “gender inequality is a systemic issue for Irish higher education that is not confined to one institution”.
Figures released by the HEA in December show that just 19 per cent of professors are women – lower than the 22 per cent rate in UK universities. In institutions of technology, women make up 45 per cent of all academic staff but only 29 per cent of senior academic staff.
The panel “will examine the reasons for continuing gender inequality among staff across the sector”, stated Tom Boland, the HEA’s chief executive, who said that it would report within 12 months.
Ms Geoghegan-Quinn, who was Ireland’s first female Cabinet minister, will be joined on the panel by Paul Walton, professor of chemistry at the University of York, where his department became the first-ever Athena SWAN gold award winner for gender equality.
Other members include Pat O’Connor, professor of sociology and social policy at the University of Limerick and the author of the recent book Management and Gender in Higher Education, and Helen Peterson, senior lecturer in the department of sociology and work science at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
The HEA already publishes data on the gender breakdown of academic and senior academic staff. Recently, it also negotiated the extension of the Athena SWAN charter to Ireland, which will support higher education institutions to effect cultural and systemic change to improve gender equality.