NUIG staff recount ‘misogyny’ and ‘bullying’ in workplace culture

Excerpts from female respondents describe discrimination as ‘pervasive’ in institution

An NUIG open day. The authors state that of the 146 comments regarding workplace culture the majority were critical, saying “the culture was generally regarded as not being supportive of equality of opportunity”

An NUIG open day. The authors state that of the 146 comments regarding workplace culture the majority were critical, saying “the culture was generally regarded as not being supportive of equality of opportunity”

 

NUI Galway staff described the culture in their workplace as being “toxic”, “misogynist” and “bullying” when responding to an internal survey which formed part of the university’s submission for a prestigious gender equality award.

Almost 1,000 part-time and full-time academic, research and support services staff at NUIG were surveyed as part of its application for the Athena SWAN bronze award last year, which the university subsequently failed to win.

Staff were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with 12 questions relating to workplace practices at NUIG, and participants were encouraged to give their views on the relevant themes in comment sections below the questions.

When asked if staff were treated equally irrespective of gender, 59 per cent of female respondents disagreed.

This fell to 37 per cent of male respondents, and the majority of participants from both genders disagreed that the ethos of the university was one that supports equality of opportunity.

Almost three-quarters of female respondents disagreed that women and men were equally visible in leadership roles in NUIG, while a quarter of females and almost one-in-five males disagreed that they were confident their head of unit would appropriately manage complaints about gender harassment or bullying.

The results of the questionnaire have been published as part of a report on the university’s website.

Leadership

The authors state that of the 146 comments provided regarding workplace culture the majority were critical, saying “the culture was generally regarded as not being supportive of equality of opportunity”.

On the topic of leadership roles, the report goes on to say that “respondents expressed discontent at the reputation and the record of the university in relation to gender equality and were critical of the role of senior management”.

Excerpts of comments were also provided, where mostly female respondents described gender discrimination as being “pervasive in the institution” and others lamented a “culture of sexism” and “cronyism”.

“When I started in college I was hugely proud of the university; in the last few years I have been totally embarrassed by the goings on here,” said one female staff member.

Gender equality has been a headline issue at NUIG since a 2014 Equality Tribunal ruling found that Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington had been discriminated against in being passed over for promotion by the university.

Members of staff have held protests against the alleged failings in NUIG’s gender equality policy over the intervening period, and the university has since set up a task force to look at the issue. In addition, it recently appointed Prof Anne Scott to the newly-created role of vice-president for equality and diversity.