Another Year, Another Dismal Performance at NUI Galway

Gender equality group cites worsening statistics

in call to promote 5 female lecturers at NUI Galway

SUMMARY: In a press release issued Tuesday, the Micheline’s Three Conditions Campaign called for the end to just talking about gender equality and actually begin to implement it by promoting the five female lecturers overlooked for promotion since 2009 and who have been forced to take their gender discrimination cases to court. The release was issued in response to 2014 statistics released this week by the Higher Education Authority pointing to NUI Galway’s continued last-place performance among all Irish universities for the promotion of women to senior positions. Below is the press release that was sent to news outlets: 

GALWAY  — With NUI Galway’s latest dismal performance regarding the number of women in senior posts, the Micheline’s Three Conditions Campaign is demanding the end to rhetoric and calling for real change at the university, beginning with the promotions of five female lecturers who have had to take their fight to court.

Newly released Higher Education Authority (HEA) national statistics for 2014 confirm that NUI Galway is still at the bottom – across the board among all Irish universities – for the percentage of women in senior academic positions, with the percentage of associate professors who are women actually decreasing. The poor performance came despite the university’s claim that it takes gender equality seriously and has launched initiatives, such as a Gender Equality Task Force, to address the long-standing problem.

“These statistics prove what we’ve been saying all along – that NUI Galway talks about its commitment to gender equality but, in actuality, is only going through the motions to do something about it,” said Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington. “Real change can only come about by promoting a higher percentage of qualified women. That’s why we are calling for the immediate promotions of the five female lecturers who were denied promotions in 2009 and are now battling for their rights in court, costing them thousands of their own euro along with the stress of going against the juggernaut institution of NUIG.” The former NUI Galway botanist’s landmark win a year ago in the Equality Tribunal set off the firestorm for the call for gender equality not just at the Galway institution but at universities throughout Ireland. “One year on today –what real changes have come about?” she asked.

The breakdown of the latest figures released by the HEA shows that the number of female junior lecturers at NUI Galway increased from 52% in 2013 to 53% in 2014. Yet, contrary to the university’s claims of improving gender equality, the percentage of female associate professors fell from 13% in 2013 to 10% in 2014 while the percentage of female senior lecturers and professors remained the same at 30% and 14%, respectively. The Irish Federation of University Teachers said this was the poorest performance of any university across all three senior grades.

As a whole, however, the seven universities included in the HEA statistics did not fare much better. All together, the percentage of female junior lecturers increased from 50% in 2013 to 51% in 2014. Yet, the percentage of female associate professors dropped dramatically from 26% in 2013 to 20% last year while the percentage of senior lecturers who are women went from 35% to 34% and, for female professors, from 19% to 20% those years. Ireland is still bottom of the European list after Malta, with the second-highest Glass Ceiling Index for female academics.

The campaign states that NUI Galway is more interested in publishing rhetoric and improving the university’s public relations than actually confronting gender bias. Members cite that Dr Jim Browne, NUI Galway president, said in an Irish Times article published in May 2015 that the university recognised the problem with gender discrimination in 2009 when only one of 17 promotions to senior lecturer went to a woman. Browne said he “led and pushed” the Governing Authority to agree to a quota system. “But the figures don’t lie,” said Rose Foley of the Micheline’s Three Conditions campaign. “The truth is that the proportion of women in senior posts actually dropped in 2014.”

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