Regarding the article “Athena SWAN funding link under scrutiny” (News, 12 October), it is important to set the record straight. As chair of the National University of Ireland, Galway Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team, and a member of the university management team, I wish to state categorically that no member of the NUI Galway management team has contacted any colleague involved in litigation with the university on the matter of Athena SWAN (aside from soliciting feedback on the process), nor would any of us wish to link these two entirely separate issues. It is also worth noting that the Equality Challenge Unit commented in the article that there was no link between legal action and the [Athena SWAN] application’s rejection.
However we do have a number of equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives going on, some of which are linked to Athena Swan. Just over a year ago, we published a gender equality action plan, and all 24 recommendations for improvement have been completed or are being implemented.
Among new policies linked to equality and diversity is a requirement for at least 40 per cent representation of women and men on all decision-making committees and interview panels. A core-hours meetings policy has been introduced to support those with caring responsibilities to fully participate in university decision-making. Also, academic grading structures and promotions processes are being or have been reviewed. We are beginning to see the impact of this work. In our most recent round of senior lecturer promotions, 57.6 per cent of successful candidates were women. Ahead of schedule, the university has hit its 2020 target that 40 per cent of the senior lecturer cohort should be women. NUI Galway is now above the Irish national average for female representation at this level.
Like most institutions, there is much to be done to bring about full gender equality, and we invite any interested parties to visit us and see the changes that are occurring and the focus on improvement throughout our community.
Vice-president for equality and diversity
National University of Ireland, Galway