Women-only professorships


Sir, – In their analysis of the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (SALI), Muireann Lynch and Selina McCoy urge consideration of its “unintended consequences” (“Will female-only professorships make the difference?”, Opinion & Analysis, July 15th).

One such consequence, they argue, is that “professors generally do less teaching than lecturers, so the visibility of women to students may best be improved by gender balance at all levels”. Yet, according to the Higher Education Authority’s data, some 51 per cent of university lecturers are women. So balance has been achieved at lower grades; at higher grades the problems are persistent, and not likely to fix themselves.

The authors also, correctly, note that women in many Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields are more frequently called upon to sit on boards and interview panels, in order to achieve gender balance.

They worry that those appointed to the SALI posts may more pressured to take on such roles.

I expect that they will, but their contribution will be to provide leadership, and not balance, and will be valued as such.

The vast majority of those in senior roles in Irish higher education institutions are men.

Women’s voices, talents and leadership are excluded from decision-making to the detriment of our institutions. Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor’s initiative will help correct this. – Yours, etc,



Vice-Dean for Equality,

Diversity and Inclusion,

College of Science,

NUI Galway.