Gender equality in higher education

Sir, – It was reassuring to see the recognition by Dr Ross Woods, head of the Higher Education Authority's centre of excellence for equality, diversity and inclusion, that "the higher education sector needs to intensify its efforts to advance gendeGender equality remains a major barrier in academiar equality" ("Gender equality remains a major barrier in academia", Education, Opinion, March 15th).

As a member of the first national review of the topic, I heartily endorse that view. That review made 22 time-specific recommendations to the higher educational institutions in 2016. They included a minimum of 40 per cent of full professors at the appropriate pay scale to be women by 2024 (a quota); the introduction of the flexible cascade model (ie, that the proportion of women to be promoted be based on the proportion at the grade immediately below); the creation of a vice-presidential post at executive level to drive change; demonstrable experience of advancing gender equality to be a requirement for all line-management appointments, including the presidents of universities. None of these recommendations have been implemented in all the higher educational institutions.

The linking of State funding to the gender profile of senior academic and management positions was also recommended. It was included in the strategic dialogue and system performance framework against which individual institutions are evaluated by the HEA. It is not clear whether budgetary action has been taken against those institutions that have not implemented these core 2016 recommendations. It was striking that Dr Woods made no reference to any of the points above. Neither did he refer to the fact that even yet, 73 per cent of those at full professorial level in the universities are men. This was not mentioned either by Minister for Further Education Simon Harris, in indicating that the second National Review of Gender Equality make five to 10 high-level recommendations. Much more needs to be done indeed. – Yours, etc,



Emeritus Professor

of Sociology and

Social Policy,

University of Limerick,

and Visiting Professor,

Geary Institute,

University College Dublin.