NUI Galway lecturers promoted after gender discrimination row

Four women settle legal action against university over 2008-09 promotion round

July 25, 2018
National University of Ireland, Galway
Source: iStock

Four female academics who have been embroiled in a gender discrimination dispute for 10 years have been promoted as part of a settlement.

The lecturers, who initiated a High Court action against the National University of Ireland, Galway, had argued that they had all met the qualifications required for senior lectureships but were unsuccessful in a promotion round in 2008-09. Only one of the 15 women who sought promotion to senior lecturer at the university in that year was successful.

In a statement, the university said that an “amicable agreement has been reached between NUI Galway and each of Drs Adrienne Gorman, Róisín Healy, Margaret Hodgins and Sylvie Lannegrand in relation to the High Court and Circuit Court proceedings”.

“Drs Healy, Hodgins and Lannegrand have now been promoted to senior lecturer. Dr Gorman was already promoted to senior lecturer in November 2017,” it said.

“The university for its part acknowledges the highly valued and dedicated contributions of these lecturers to their respective disciplines and the university community. The details of the agreement are confidential and as such none of the parties wish to make any further comment.”

The Irish Times said that the settlement was understood to run to hundreds of thousands of euros and required sign-off by the government, according to sources.

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

However, the university achieved a bronze-level Athena SWAN award in May, after introducing initiatives including gender quotas for promotion schemes, unconscious bias training for managers, and leadership development programmes for female staff.

The four lecturers initiated legal action against NUI Galway after a 2014 landmark equality tribunal case relating to the same promotion round. This found that Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, a former lecturer at the institution, had been discriminated against on gender grounds.

The university was ordered to promote Dr Sheehy Skeffington and pay her €70,000 (£62,268) in compensation; she donated this money to help the four lecturers with their legal bill.

Another lecturer, Elizabeth Tilley, was promoted last year after taking the university to an employment tribunal over the same promotion round.

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