SUMMARY: Yesterday’s Gender InEquality Conference organised by the Gender ARC at NUI Galway was featured in a news story by reporter Lorna Siggins in Saturday’s Irish Times. The following is the news story in full. You can also read the story by clicking on this link:
World university rankings need to factor in gender equality – expert
Change must come from ‘leadership at top’, forum on contentious issue at NUIG told
Prof O’Connor, who is a member of the Higher Education Authority’s third-level gender equality review group, said that the global QS and Times Higher Education rankings should take into account the performance of universities on this issue.
Prof O’Connor, who turned down an invitation by NUIG earlier this year to advise its gender equality taskforce, said that the example set by her own university showed how change could come about.
UL scored highest in a gender equality ranking which the conference organisers published this week, with 33 per cent of its senior posts held by women.
Change was “neither inevitable, total, nor permanent”, said Prof O’Connor, noting that UL had not followed through on all its own recommendations.
Research funding from Science Foundation Ireland and Atlantic Philanthropies had helped to advance gender equality at UL, she said.
Dublin City University had exactly the same opportunities as UL to advance equality, and had not taken them, she noted. DCU scored fifth on the conference ranking list, with 28 per cent of senior posts held by women.
Analysing research which showed that gender equality was an international issue, Prof O’Connor said that a culture which discriminated against women would not shift without leadership at the top which had “bought in 100 per cent” to change.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development research had found that gender initiatives were significant in increasing economic growth, she said.
NUIG is one of the “worst universities in Europe” for its commitment to gender equality, said King’s College London senior lecturer Dr Kelly Coate.
With 21 per cent of women in senior posts last year, NUIG scored lowest on the conference rankings list, but Dr Coate said she was not surprised.
“Invisible”, “not good enough” and “undervalued” were among responses she had received from some 30 female staff at NUIG in a survey she conducted prior to the conference.
Gender discrimination extended from academic to administrative staff, with cleaning positions largely held by women,and the university’s management team needed to address it as a systemic level, she said.
She said the feedback she had received from NUIG – where she worked for six years – was that the task force set up in the wake of last year’s Equality Tribunal ruling in favour of botanist Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington was not independent.
“NUIG has had enough task forces, and it needed to take responsibility now,”she said.
“The private sector is steaming ahead,” said Dr Coate, while there were “far too many young women undergraduates who would never meet a female professor or female senior lecturer” in universities like NUIG.