Former academic welcomes gender quota proposal for NUI Galway

Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington won landmark discrimination case against university

Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy


An academic who was at the centre of a major gender discrimination battle with NUI Galway has welcomed proposals to introduce mandatory gender quotas for academic staff at the university.

A final draft of the college’s gender equality taskforce report says such a move would significantly increase the number of female academics in senior posts.

The move could also have significant implications for other colleges and public sector employers where women are under-represented

The taskforce was set up in 2015 after Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington – granddaughter of suffragette Hanna Sheehy Skeffington – won a landmark Equality Tribunal case against the university.

‘Appalling situation’

Dr Skeffington said: “It is great that NUI Galway have recognised they have to address the appalling situation for women in the university by implementing mandatory quotas for promotion rounds and the suggested way to do it is excellent.”

However, she said the policy should be applied to all staff and not just academics. And quotas needed to be applied from outside the university.

“If they do not do this, then I fear it will result in more outside appointments, mostly men, and so less promotions for internal staff,” she said. The college must address “injustices of the past” by promoting five women at the college who are taking legal actions over not being promoted.“I know they deserve promotion as much as I did because they were shortlisted along with me and through my Equality Tribunal case I saw the application forms for all the shortlisted candidates,” she said.

NUI Galway has also welcomed the draft report and said a final report would be issued to the college’s governing authority next month.

In the meantime, the university said the draft report – issued by the chair of the taskforce, Prof Jane Grimson – is being circulated to the wider college community.

“The draft final report contains 23 evidence-based recommendations which are aimed at promoting gender equality at NUI Galway,” the university said. “In welcoming the draft report, the university reiterates its commitment to addressing gender equality across the university with the highest priority and looks forward to the completion of the final report.”

In June 2015, as part of its preliminary report, the taskforce made a series of recommendations to NUI Galway’s governing authority aimed at address gender equality at a systematic level. The university said all four recommendations had been implemented.