Gender equality remains an issue at University of Galway
From this week's Galway City Tribune
Author: Dara Bradley
~ 3 minutes read
From this week's Galway City Tribune
Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley
Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington last month launched a new book, written by journalist Rose Foley, that documented the lecturer’s years of struggle pushing for gender equality at what was then known as NUIG.
Around the time of the launch in Charlie Byrne’s bookshop, minutes of Governing Body meetings of the rebranded University of Galway were released to this newspaper under Freedom of Information (FOI).
The minutes confirmed that, while progress on equality for women at the university had been made, it has since stalled and even regressed. Despite all the successes highlighted in Micheline’s Three Conditions: How We Fought Gender Inequality at Galway’s University and Won, it’s a case of: Plus ca change!
The ongoing issues were flagged with Údarás na hOllscoile members last February during discussion of a gender pay gap report, circulated at the Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Human Resources Committee of the university.
Governing Body members heard that there was a “very slight improvement in the Gender Pay Gap within the University of Galway since the start of the reporting process, however the gap is at 18.6% which is higher than the national average”.
The university was “leading out” on a Higher Education Authority project, which would “look at interventions to further reduce this gap”, the Governing Body heard.
Dr Helen Maher, Vice-President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the university updated members on the Gender Pay Gap report, published in December 2022.
She said work was underway to “try and understand the main drivers” of the gender pay gap, which was important work. But despite “significant interventions and initiatives” at the university, “the gap still remained challenging”, Dr Maher said, according to the minutes.
A sub-group was set-up within the University Management Team, which would “bring fuller understanding”, and her work on a national pay gap project “would add insights into the drivers within other institutions”.
One unnamed and insightful Governing Body member “noted the need for the university to recognise and address the impact of legacy issues within the institution”.
It was agreed Dr Maher would return at future meetings, with “proposed actions” to address why men were paid more than women at the university.
At a meeting in April, it was noted that an application for an overall Athena Swan Silver award (an accreditation system that recognises and encourages gender equality in third level education), “could prove challenging to achieve”.
‘A lot done, more to do’, seems to sum up the gender equality situation at University of Galway since Micheline’s campaign instigated institutional change at the Quadrangle and other Irish third level colleges.
Pictured: Deputy Catherine Connolly, TD, Rose Foley, Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, and Siobhán Quinlan, University of Galway, at the launch of the book, Micheline’s Three Conditions, at Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop. Around the time of the book launch, a meeting of the Governing Body of the university heard that while progress on equality for women at the university had been made, it has since stalled and even regressed.
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