A new Action Plan by the Gender Equality Taskforce, on behalf of the Republic of Ireland’s Department of Education and Skills (DES), recommends more widespread and deeper engagement by higher education institutions (HEIs) with the Athena SWAN Charter, an initiative run by Advance HE to promote gender equality.
The Action Plan notes that engagement with the Athena SWAN process has been “transformative for higher education institutions”.
To date, nine institutions in Ireland hold an Athena SWAN ‘bronze’ award, and twelve departmental awards have been conferred. A bronze award indicates that the institution or department has completed a thorough self-assessment and has an action plan in place to address gender equality issues. Several Institutes of Technology (IoT), colleges and departments are in the process of preparing applications.
Today’s Action Plan recommends that all higher education institutions should apply for an institutional bronze award by 2019, and encourages them to progress to silver - within eight years of the bronze award - and gold level thereafter. The report also notes that IoTs working towards Technological University (TU) status will need to demonstrate to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) that they are working to build gender equality, and once the TU has been established, it will need to achieve a Bronze award within three years
Alison Johns, Advance HE’s Chief Executive, said, “HEIs in Ireland have done a huge amount of work to achieve their Athena SWAN awards, demonstrating their commitment to achieving gender equality. We have been delighted to support them in that work.
We welcome the recommendations for wider and deeper engagement with Athena SWAN to sustain that momentum, though clearly the details of timescales, targets and research funding are a matter for the sector in Ireland to determine rather than Advance HE.”
Advance HE will hold an award ceremony in Dublin on 14 November to confer 10 awards on institutions and departments who were successful in the November 2017 and April 2018 assessment rounds. The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, is scheduled to attend the awards.
Athena SWAN Charter
The Athena SWAN Charter was first established in the UK to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in higher education, focusing on science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM). The Charter was expanded in 2015 to include arts & humanities and social sciences, and it now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, not just barriers to progression that affect women.
HEIs in the Republic of Ireland are currently in a transition period where either the original or expanded charter framework may be used. This transition period runs until November 2020, after which time all Irish applicants must apply using the expanded framework.
The Athena SWAN charter was launched in Ireland in February 2015 and is funded by the HEA. Advance HE staff support Irish HEIs in their Athena SWAN work, and in the last 12 months, they have delivered 26 workshops and presentations on the Athena SWAN application process to institutions and departments across Ireland. This has included a series of national workshops tailored to IoTs, which was coordinated by Technological Higher Education Association (THEA).
For further information please contact:
Dr Victoria Brownlee, Athena SWAN Programme Manager, Ireland, Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 7387 261347.