Mandatory gender quotas proposed for NUI Galway

Move comes after Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington won key Equality Tribunal case

The quadrangle at NUI Galway: Gender equality taskforce set up in 2015 after Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington  won a landmark Equality Tribunal case against the university

The quadrangle at NUI Galway: Gender equality taskforce set up in 2015 after Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington won a landmark Equality Tribunal case against the university

 

Mandatory gender quotas should be introduced in NUI Galway to increase the number of female academics in senior posts, a major inquiry set up after it lost a gender discrimination legal battle will report shortly.

Women currently hold just over half of all of the lecturer posts at the university, but their numbers fall to 30 per cent at senior lecturer level and 10 per cent at associate professor level. Just 14 per cent are full professors.

The proposal is contained in the final draft of NUIG’s gender equality taskforce, due to report next month, which is headed by Prof Jane Grimson, former vice-provost of Trinity College Dublin.

It 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.

The report, which was commissioned by the university, recommends that mandatory gender quotas are required to ensure more women are promoted to senior academic posts.

It is understood to be the first time gender quotas are being considered for the public sector and, if implemented, could have major repercussions for colleges and public sector employers. The report says the university needs to take immediate action to address the gender inequality that has developed due to the “deeply embedded male-oriented culture within it”.

Cascade approach

The quota to be promoted would be based on the number of women eligible for promotion at the grade below – a so-called cascade approach that would lead to approximately 50/50 selection over time.

In addition, it says all committees and working groups at the university should have a minimum of 40 per cent of women by the end of this year, while 50 per cent of the chairs of these influential committees should be women by late 2018.

“Gender inequality is evident across the university with the result that many women feel undervalued and ignored,” the report states.

“At a human level, this is clearly unacceptable. It also undermines the university’s commitment to excellence by failing to develop the talents of its entire staff.”

NUI Galway has taken steps to address gender equality issues with the appointment of Prof Anne Scott as vice-president for equality and diversity, the first appointment of its kind in an Irish University.