Minister approves 10 more academic positions in gender equality initiative

Harris says posts will have ‘significant impact’ for gender equality at third level

The Minister for Further and Higher Education has approved 10 more positions at senior academic level in higher education under an initiative to progress gender equality in academia.

Simon Harris’s announcement on Monday was made under the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (Sali).

The 10 positions bring to 30 the total number of posts awarded under the Sali, launched in 2019 as part of initiatives to progress gender equality in higher education, as set out in the Gender Equality Taskforce Action Plan 2018-2020.

The posts, awarded to seven of 20 applicant institutions, are in areas including biochemical engineering, sustainable geoscience, intersectional humanities and pharmaceutical engineering.


“These posts will not only have a significant impact in terms of gender equality, but they will also contribute to wider societal goals through research and education,” Mr Harris said.

The posts were approved by an expert international assessment panel and further posts under the Sali may be approved from a reserve list in 2022.

Recruitment of the 10 posts will now be initiated by the relevant institutions.


The 2021 Report on Higher Education Institutional Staff Profiles by Gender, which has been published by the Higher Education Authority, showed that, in December 2020, some 52 per cent of university lecturers but only 27 per cent of professors were female. In the previous year, 26 per cent of professors were female.

In the institute of technology sector, some 49 per cent of lecturers are female, but only 36 per cent of senior lecturer positions are held by female staff.

An analysis by the 2018 Gender Taskforce on the estimated rate of change suggested if current recruitment and promotion practices continued, it could take up to 20 years to achieve an average of 40 per cent females at professor level in the university sector. It recommended that new and additional gender-specific posts, at appropriate levels, and other positive action measures to achieve rapid and sustainable change should be considered.

The Sali has been confirmed by the attorney general as consistent with national and EU employment law.

To secure additional posts under the Sali, higher education institutions must have a gender action plan in place and demonstrate they are progressing their gender equality objectives and targets to achieve real organisational and cultural change.

The seven successful applicants for the 10 positions are the University of Limerick, Maynooth University, the Technological University of Ireland, University College Cork, University College Dublin, Dublin City University and NUI Galway.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times