Closing the gender gap

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Sir, – Further to your article, “Glaring gender gaps found in academic posts” (Home News, August 3rd).

More than 50 years ago UCD boasted five outstanding women scientists who were professors and associate professors – Carmel Humphries (zoology), Eva Philbin (chemistry), Phyllis Clinch (botany), Dervla Donnelly (phytochemistry) and Sheila Tinney (mathematical physics). These women were widely known and highly respected in the academic world both nationally and internationally. It is incredible and unacceptable in spite of more women working in the academic world in 2018 that no gender balance has been achieved with respect to appointments at associate professor and professor levels in our universities.

Maybe members of interview boards ought to reflect proper gender balance. It is high time that all male presidents of our universities, governing boards and male professors and associate professors realised the urgent need for rectifying the more than obvious gender gap.

Women and men ought to be appointed to all higher academic positions in our universities on the sole basis of merit ie qualifications, research experience and expertise – not forgetting ability to articulate their thoughts and lecture well, supervise their research students and mentor them, connect comfortably with their students inside and outside lecture halls, communicate effectively with their colleagues, and people in the wider world.

It would be undesirable to appoint women on gender quota basis.

Meritocracy has to reign supreme at all times.

The task is huge and the time is now to work towards gender balance at professorial and all other levels of appointments in our universities. There are plenty of able, highly educated women in Ireland and elsewhere. – Yours, etc,

MARY TOOMEY,

MSc, PhD (TCD),

Blackrock,

Co Dublin.

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