NUI Galway’s derisory offer revealed as they fail Athena SWAN application again

At the last meeting of the Governing Body, two weeks ago, to our great surprise NUI Galway revealed the details of their final offer made to the four women last month. These details were supposedly strictly secret, so we have never known what it was that the women turned down, but then NUI Galway circulated the offer to every member of the Governing Body! That means that over 40 people got to see it and the university has been full of gossip about it since. We have still to see the actual document (it can be sent to us via and were waiting before we posted a blog. But now we have another development that we strongly suspect is related. NUI Galway has again failed their Athena SWAN application!

Athena SWAN is an award for addressing gender discrimination in higher education and research. The Irish Higher Education Authority has made it a requirement for all Irish universities to achieve the first level, bronze, before 2019 or they will no longer receive government research grants. By this last application only Maynooth and NUI Galway were left not having achieved bronze, so management were desperate for success. But Micheline, and others inspired by this campaign, wrote in to detail the situation for the four women and their impending High Court gender descrimination cases. It now seems we succeeded!

And how are these two developments related? Well, at the start of the mediation process, something that was initiated by management although they tried to hide it, President Jim Browne was that confident they would succeed in bullying the women into accepting less than they deserve, that he announced to the last Governing Body (Údarás) meeting that the High Court cases were sorted. How embarrassing to then have to tell the Údarás that they had not succeeded. And how much more embarrasing when NUI Galway fails the Athena SWAN application again and cites the High Court gender descrimination cases. Management would have known the result before the meeting, as they are told before the public announcement.

And what was the offer to the four women? We hear that it had three elements: a payment of €50,000, a year’s sabbatical with money for someone to take on the lecture duties of the women and ‘a route to promotion’. This ‘route’ we hear, was actually something already available to any lecturer at NUI Galway: to apply for a senior lectureship post elsewhere and, if offered it, to then apply for promotion at NUI Galway on the basis of that offer.

To understand just how derisory this offer was, we should put it into context. When Micheline won her gender descrimination case in 2014 her promotion was back dated to 2009 and she received back pay. For the four women, we estimate that the pay lost will now exceed €90,000 for each of them, it has taken so long to resolve this. Then there is their future pay loss and their loss in pension, which will more than double the sum to at least €200,000, should they not be promoted before they retire. In addition, they have also missed out in the possibility of being awarded a professorship (as has happened to nearly all of the 16 men who were promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2009) and the pay rise associated with that. This would have been one of the reasons the Equality Tribunal awarded Micheline, in addition to her back pay, €70,000 tax free. This was the money she then offered the women so they could take their cases.

For the four women, however, this has never actually been about money, but about NUI Galway’s failure to recognise their worth. What they seek is an admission that in 2009 when 16 men were promoted and only one women, despite over 50% of junior lecturers being women, that an injustice occurred and that they, shortlisted along with Micheline, and like her deemed eligible for promotion and then not promoted, should have been promoted. That’s what is important to them. And it appears that it is also what is important to Athena SWAN. There has been a blatant case of gender descrimination at NUI Galway and it has to be corrected.

To suggest that these four women, all with families, should apply for jobs elsewhere so that they might then be promoted at NUI Galway, is an utter insult. What amazes us most is that University managment actually thought by revealing these details they might be seen as having made a reasonable offer to the women!

We suspect with this latest set-back, NUI Galway will soon be forced to give in and put right the injustice to these women. We hear managment are applying again for Athena SWAN in November. During that application round President Jim Browne will retire, which will hopefully put an end to managment misogyny and the bullying of women. The new president has already been given a warning of what he needs to do. The Irish Times article announcing his appointment gave as much wordage to the need to address the problems for female staff and promote the four, as it did to him.

We are proud of how strong the four women have been. We know what pressure they have been under to capitulate. Now they are starting to get their reward: management running around like a headless chicken!


Micheline sets sail to America


Micheline on the Queen Mary II in Southampton Harbour.

Micheline’s US tour is underway! She set sail on Thursday, following her grandmother, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, to the United States. Hanna sailed from Glasgow with her young son, Owen, Micheline’s father, using false passports. She kept to her cabin for the crossing, fearing recognition, as the British government had banned her from travelling.  Micheline departed from Southampton on the only available crossing this month — aboard the Queen Mary II — and she’s making the most of it. She tells us it’s been blue skies so far, with dolphins following the ship.

Micheline is travelling with Joanna McMinn, who helped arrange her tour. They arrive in


At sea with Joanna.

New York soon after dawn on 7th September where Eddie Mullarkey will be stationed to film them disembark. They have a hectic schedule for the first ten days, which Eddie will be filming: Ellis Island, Carnegie Hall, the New York hotel Hanna stayed in, the home of anarchist/feminist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, interviews with historians and curators as well as the lectures and media interviews Micheline will be giving. They will travel by train, again as Hanna did, from New York via Connecticut, where Micheline is to give another lecture, to Boston where she will give at least three lectures.

Micheline is determined that every lecture and interview in the US will reference her ongoing fight against NUI Galway for the promotion of the five women, who, like her, were shortlisted but not promoted in 2009. The women still have not been promoted as they were out of time to take an Equality Tribunal case as she did.  She expects extensive media coverage and has already undertaken more than 10 radio and newspaper interviews with journalists interviewing from the States before she arrives. Here is one of the articles in the  Chicago Sun Times.

The proposed film of the tour “Hanna and Me: Passing on the Flame” now has a producer, Margo Harkin, and director, Sé Merry Doyle, who made an excellent documentary on the feminist doctor Kathleen Lynn.  Joanna’s crowd funding eventually raised €24,000, enough to film everything they want to of Micheline’s tour. They are now hoping to help fund the next stage: Micheline will be encouraging her US audiences to donate to the cost of editing the footage and paying a researcher to assemble archive material of Hanna’s original tour. You can also contribute, if you’d like — Joanna has adapted her crowd funding site so that it can continue and raise the further €20,000 needed.

The eventual film will also reference the gender equality campaign against NUI Galway and include footage from our demos for the five women. The bad publicity for NUI Galway will continue to mount until they give in and promoted them. We hear that the next High Court hearing for the women’s cases against NUI Galway is now unlikely to happen before the end of this year. So when Micheline returns on 22nd November she’ll be in time to support us in making sure the next hearing gets the same large amount of publicity the last one did.

You can follow Micheline’s tour on facebook at hannasUStour, which will have news updates and all lecture details. Or you can follow Micheline herself on Twitter @MichelineShSk.

Dear Supporters: Thank you! (but the work continues)

The Campaign would like to sincerely thank everyone who contributed to the ‘Hanna and Me: Passing on the Flame’ crowd-funding film project. As of the fundraising deadline at 8 this morning, a total of €23,530 EUR was raised by more than 250 backers — 112% of the €21,000 fixed goal!

We are most grateful for your generosity. Raising more than the target amount allows for filming beyond what was originally thought possible. But also, the fact that over 250 people backed the project is a terrific endorsement of it. People want the story to be told – about Hanna and about how her story is so relevant still today, including the campaign to have the five women promoted in NUI Galway.

In fact, because of your generosity we were able to meet the initial fundraising goal on, so that allows us to now continue the fundraising. This will allow additional filming of Micheline’s US tour this autumn, leading to an even better documentary film.

With the extra funds raised so far, the film crew can expand their work to:

  • Buffalo, New York, where we now think the attempted abduction of Hanna took place, rather than in Lowell, Massachusetts, as reported in the newspapers at the time.
  • US West Coast, particularly San Francisco, where Hanna’s 18-month tour began to unwind in 1918. The extra funding will allow us to explore how that happened.

Joanna McMinn, a producer of the film who set up the crowd-funding page, is using’s option to keep the crowd funding going. Through this option, Micheline will be able to use her lectures and media interviews in America to promote the site. That way it might be possible to gather additional funds to help with making the documentary upon her return.

Micheline and her two-person crew will be working with Loopline, an independent film company based in Dublin. Sé Merry Doyle of Loopline, who will be the film’s director, directed an excellent documentary about another famous Irish feminist, Kathleen Lynn – Rebel Doctor (

We wish Micheline, Joanna and cameraman Eddie Mullarkey well and hope they come back from the US with lots of footage to make a great documentary.




Hanna documentary film nearly there!

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Hanna with her son Owen, Micheline’s father, in 1917 on her epic US tour.

The crowd funding to film Micheline following her grandmother’s US tour this autumn has reached €15,000 with 174 separate donations. That is 72% of the €21,000 total! Thank you to everyone who has helped! Micheline and Joanna have now found a production company interested in taking the project on, who have a successful track record with documentaries many of which have been shown on RTE. If they can come to a formal agreement the company will apply for a grant to complete the filming and to produce a documentary about Hanna after Micheline returns from the US.

Donations continue to come in steadily but there are now only 6 days left to reach the total, or the money is returned to the backers by As a result, Micheline is donating €3,000 herself in the hope the remaining €3,000 is offered by others before the deadline of 8pm on Tues 15th. If you want to help, you can do so here. Even the smallest of donation is welcome! Having more supporters is also a further endorsement of the project.

As well as filming some of Micheline’s many lectures, media interviews and receptions, Joanna also plans to film the old hotel in New York where Hanna stayed before giving her first lecture in Carnegie Hall, then in the Carnegie Hall archive room with the archivist, at Ellis Island with a historian, in Boston where Micheline is hosted by the Irish Cultural Centre, at the train station near Buffalo where British agents attempted to trick Hanna onto a train crossing the Canadian border where they could arrest her, at the iBAM! festival in Chicago where Micheline is a headline ‘act’, at the anarchist grave yard where two famous feminist friends of Hanna are buried, and in Butte, Montana, which still has a vibrant memory of Hanna’s visit 100 years ago. They will also film some of the many train journeys Micheline will take, and her arrival in New York by transatlantic liner, as Hanna did.

The documentary will reference Micheline’s historic gender discrimination win and this campaign. Micheline has been invited to give lectures on her case, and the gender inequality at NUI Galway and in Ireland, at several American universities, and for human rights groups. Footage of the benefit concert and other campaign events will be used. Thus, by supporting this project you will also help keep the pressure on NUI Galway to stop the gender discrimination and promote the five women!

Please help the project by donating to Hanna and Me: Passing on the Flame.




Government task force on gender bias welcomed, but at NUI Galway and other Irish Universities, it helps to look at where the power is

In July, the Higher Education Authority issued this year’s figures for gender percentages in Irish Universities and other higher-education institutions. Because this Web page focused on the four female lecturers’ mediation coming to an end at NUI Galway, we made no comment on the HEA report – and we didn’t produce an updated version of our table ranking the Irish Universities. But we found we didn’t need to: This year’s HEA figures got a lot more media coverage than last year’s, including Page One of The Sunday Times and most reports, including RTE‘s, singled out NUI Galway for still being the worst. It’s even come to the attention of the French science monitoring service!

As a result, we were pleased to hear the announcement by Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor that she would be setting up a Task Force and was inclined to implement gender quotas in promotion to correct the imbalance in Irish Universities. We hope the Minister will note what happened at NUI Galway when an Equality Task Force was appointed in 2015. President Jim Browne made much of the Task Force and the resulting adoption of gender quotas at NUI Galway. But where are we two years later? We have a new promotion round this year from Junior to Senior Lecturer where the gender quota adopted is 40% – just 1% higher than the percentage of women promoted in the last round and 12% lower than the percentage of Junior Lecturers who are women. If it is to have any meaningful effect, the minimum gender quota adopted by the new Task Force must, at the very least, reflect the percentage of women in the positions from which they are being promoted. The quotas should also apply to appointments from outside.

NUI Galway has a sorry record of proclaiming improvements for women and then backtracking on its commitments – as Micheline keeps pointing out.  President Browne also likes to claim that the 2015 HEA report into gender discrimination, commissioned shortly after his Task Force was formed, somehow came about through his efforts and not because of Micheline’s Equality Tribunal win. That HEA report made many excellent recommendations, including regarding the appointment of University presidents, which it considered critical in order to effect real change in the third-level sector. Regarding appointment criteria for president, candidates should have ‘demonstrable experience of leadership in advancing gender equality’ and this should be ‘included in the recruitment criteria and the framework for evaluating the performance of candidates’ (p. 47). We have learned that, at a meeting where the process of the replacement of Jim Browne as President was discussed, NUIG Governing Body instructed NUIG management to implement this HEA recommendation. However, it was subsequently ignored, as is apparent from the ad and on-line brochure for the NUIG presidency. It says it all. So much for NUI Galway being ahead of the curve on correcting gender discrimination.

Everything we’ve seen so far at NUI Galway has been window dressing to make it look like the University is doing something when actually it is doing very little. They created a Vice President for Equality and Diversity and then must have given her a very limited brief. So, as well as rolling out a hugely expensive unconscious bias training programme, which has yet to prove its worth, they have increased the number of women on some committees and on the management team, so that at least some percentages look good.

However, if you want to assess change, you should look at where the power is. It was notable in the recent HEA figures that every single Irish university continues to have a man as President – as they always have. At NUI Galway, every College Dean, virtually every head of a Research Institute as well as the Registrar – the only posts with real power besides the President – is still a man, despite at least a dozen appointments in the last couple of years. Things will have changed when half of them are women.

We gather that the final short-list for the Presidency comprises seven candidates, of whom two are women. What are the chances of either woman being offered the post?


Hanna and Me: Passing on the Flame: There are only 12 days left to raise the amount needed to fund the documentary film about the centenary of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington’s courageous speaking tour of the US in 1917. To help Micheline follow her grandmother and tell her own campaign story in the US, please support the crowdfunding here.


Mediation finally fails

The mediation that has been ongoing between NUI Galway and the four female academics taking High Court cases for gender discrimination in the 08/09 promotion round to senior lecturer has finally ended in failure. It began with an adjournment two days before the hearing on May 4th in which NUI Galway were attempting to have the cases thrown out on legal grounds alone. Despite their subterfuge, we were able to show that the mediation had been initiated by NUI Galway, even though they had nothing to lose in that hearing. We believe NUI Galway backed down and went for mediation, after years of refusing to negotiate, because they wanted to avoid the demonstration we planned for outside the High Court (this video will show you why!). The campaign effectively had NUIG management trapped and they knew it: whether they won or lost, NUI Galway’s hypocrisy would be exposed in all the national media. Having insisted all these years that it was for the five women to prove the injustice in court as there was nothing management could do to put it right, this hearing for four of the women’s cases would have shown management were attempting to stop the women from doing that.

The 08/09 round of promotion to senior lecturer at NUI Galway was corrupt: we’ve shown how five undeserving men were promoted and Micheline says there are seven in all. That’s why only one woman was promoted in that round against 16 men, even though more than 50% of the junior lecturers were women. That’s also why management has never attempted to investigate what went on in that round despite admitting there was a problem. They know it was corrupt because, as we have shown, they were involved.

To be fair to them, it’s not really the campaign who now have them trapped — management have mostly done it for themselves. Since President Jim Browne came to power in 2008, six months before the corrupt round of promotions, NUI Galway’s policy has been to fight everything and never give in. In dealing with the unions, grievances with staff and any legal challenges, this management always fight to the bitter end. Senior staff often comment on how the previous president would have had the sense to resolve the matter by promoting the women. Instead the present management, under President Browne, are once again trying to wear down their opponents and bully them into giving in. The campaign is not privy to details of the mediation, but we feel certain that this bullying attitude is the reason the mediation went on so long and still ended in failure.

In any abusive relationship, the abused party has to find the courage to stand up and name the abuse for what it is. It is the female staff at NUI Galway who have particularly suffered under the present regime, as is usual with male bullies. First Micheline, and then the five women who were also shortlisted in the 08/09 round, have had the courage to stand up and face down management. They are doing this for all of the staff at NUI Galway, particularly the women. You can show your support by resolving now to be part of our demonstration outside the High Court for the rescheduled hearing sometime this autumn. If we can manage an impressive demo, we believe management will finally have to agree to what the women want. We know the women are not being greedy, want no more than the injustice corrected and are willing to compromise. Management really want the bad publicity to go away – but to get that they have to realise that bullying is not going to work this time.

With the meditation over, Micheline and this campaign can again publicise NUI Galway’s gender discrimination. Micheline’s lecture tour of the US will ensure there are many opportunities, starting with coverage in Ireland during August before she goes, then in the US with media coverage of the tour there, and then again here when she returns in November. Every time she speaks to the media or gives one of the many lectures about her grandmother’s famous tour, Micheline will also reference the campaign and the injustice for the five women. AS will the documentary about Hanna she plans. You can support what she is doing and help highlight the gender discrimination at NUI Galway by contributing to the crowd funding to film the tour, for the documentary Hanna and Me- Passing on the Flame.

Micheline’s US Tour takes shape

The Dreamland Auditorium in San Francisco,  capacity 8,000, which Hanna filled for the second time today, 16th July, 100 years ago.

Micheline’s tour of the US following her grandmother Hanna’s historic tour 100 years ago now has an outline itinerary, shown below.  Invites have come in from universities, historical societies, Irish American centres and feminist organisations. Their generous offers of financial support are enough to cover all of Micheline’s own costs. The crowd funding to film key sections of the tour has also gone well, with more than half the €21,000 raised from over 130 donations. However, as there were only 7 days left to reach the target – or forfeit all the pledges and get nothing – Joanna McMinn, who is organising the project, has extended the period by the maximum that Indiegogo allows – another 25 days.

Micheline departs – sailing to New York as her grandmother did – on Aug 30th. She has had to pay for the flights and accommodation to film the first section of the tour: through New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. That means we need to find the remaining €9,500 to be able to pay her back as well as to ensure filming in Chicago and the West Coast. Can you help or can you share Hanna and Me – Passing on the Flame  with any feminist networks or friends who might be sympathetic?tour itinery

Micheline will accept further invitations to speak or media interviews, provided they work with this schedule and are for towns and cities Hanna visited. She will particularly welcome invites from Irish American societies, feminist organisations and alumni or other organisations associated with NUI Galway. Please contact the hannasUStour facebook page. Or write to Further details will appear on the facebook page nearer the time.

You can find out more and donate to the film project here.