The Micheline’s Three Conditions campaign gained a major victory this week when the Athena SWAN Framework rejected NUI Galway’s application for a gender equality award.
The refusal vindicates the campaign’s efforts and its arguments that NUI Galway is more interested in salvaging its public image than actually improving gender relations. And if the public thought the university’s gender discrimination problems were all sorted through the appointment of a non-independent Gender Equality Task Force, then the decision makes it clear that the university still has a long way to go.
Since Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington won her gender discrimination suit against NUI Galway at the end of 2014, the university has put all its efforts and money into a public relations campaign to improve its image – and distract the public and the powers that be from the real issue: the fact that five other women lecturers at NUI Galway have filed gender bias suits in the High and Labour courts. The Irish Times published a portion of a press release issued by the campaign in response to the Athena SWAN announcement in the following July 30th news story:
Campaign named after Micheline Sheehy Skeffington says decision ‘vindicates’ efforts
BY LORNA SIGGINS, WESTERN CORRESPONDENT
A campaign for equality at NUI Galway (NUIG) says that the university’s failure to secure a new accreditation for gender equality policies “vindicates” its efforts.
The “Micheline’s Three Conditions” campaign said that NUIG’s performance vindicated its claim that actions taken by the Galway university were “nothing more than efforts geared at improving its public image”.
Trade union Siptu said it was “unfortunate, but not surprising” that NUIG had not secured the award. It confirmed that its academic section had objected to NUIG’s application.
NUIG said it commended the success of its higher education colleagues in attaining the award, and said it remained committed to delivering on a detailed action plan to address gender equality.
It noted that the “process has been a rigorous one with many benefits for the university”.
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It should be pointed out that the press release issued by the campaign also contained this information that was left out of the Irish Times news story:
The campaign argues that since the Sheehy Skeffington case, NUI Galway has merely focused on improving public relations rather than making substantive changes in how women lecturers eligible for promotion are treated at the university.
Specifically, the campaign points out the following:
- The NUI Galway Gender Equality Task Force appointed in February was not independent. Indeed, UL Prof Pat O’Connor, an expert on gender equality, declined to advise the task force because she had ‘serious reservations’ about its make-up, saying she would not be used as a ‘corporate mudflap’ by NUI Galway.
- Despite the fact that the Equality Tribunal, which heard the Sheehy Skeffington case, described NUI Galway’s approach to academic promotions as ‘ramshackle’, NUI Galway President Jim Browne is still fighting the promotions of five women who were eligible for promotion in 2008-2009, the same round as Dr Sheehy Skeffington.
- Browne is still using university funds to fight the promotions of these five women.
- Although the Equality Tribunal highlighted that a male lecturer was promoted in the 2008-2009 round without actually being eligible for promotion, the university still has not promoted the next person rightfully in line for that honour – a woman lecturer.
- NUI Galway still has not met the three conditions emphasised by the Micheline’s Three Conditions campaign, which are: to promote the five women who were denied promotion in the 2008-2009 round that saw 1 in 15 women but 16 of 32 men promoted; to admit that the subsequent round of promotions in 2014, for which there have been at least 20 appeals, was also flawed; and to aim to have an equal number of women as men in senior academic posts.