News reports: Pressure is on for NUI Galway to change hiring practices

SUMMARY: A day after the Village Magazine reported that a senior member of the administration at NUI Galway has made a complaint under the 2014 Whistleblower Act about alleged irregularities in the appointment of people to senior teaching and administrative positions, the Irish Times reports today (April 14th) that a university task force is set to recommend mandatory gender quotas to increase the number of female academics in senior posts at NUI Galway.

Both news stories follow in full below. 

Mandatory gender quotas proposed for NUI Galway

Move comes after Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington won key Equality Tribunal case

The quadrangle at NUI Galway: Gender equality taskforce set up in 2015 after Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington  won a landmark Equality Tribunal case against the university 

The quadrangle at NUI Galway: Gender equality taskforce set up in 2015 after Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington won a landmark Equality Tribunal case against the university

Mandatory gender quotas should be introduced in NUI Galway to increase the number of female academics in senior posts, a major inquiry set up after it lost a gender discrimination legal battle will report shortly.
Women currently hold just over half of all of the lecturer posts at the university, but their numbers fall to 30 per cent at senior lecturer level and 10 per cent at associate professor level. Just 14 per cent are full professors.

The proposal is contained in the final draft of NUIG’s gender equality taskforce, due to report next month, which is headed by Prof Jane Grimson, former vice-provost of Trinity College Dublin.

It was set up in 2015 after Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington – granddaughter of suffragette Hanna Sheehy Skeffington – won a landmark Equality Tribunalcase against the university.

The report, which was commissioned by the university, recommends that mandatory gender quotas are required to ensure more women are promoted to senior academic posts.

It is understood to be the first time gender quotas are being considered for the public sector and, if implemented, could have major repercussions for colleges and public sector employers. The report says the university needs to take immediate action to address the gender inequality that has developed due to the “deeply embedded male-oriented culture within it”.

Cascade approach

The quota to be promoted would be based on the number of women eligible for promotion at the grade below – a so-called cascade approach that would lead to approximately 50/50 selection over time.

In addition, it says all committees and working groups at the university should have a minimum of 40 per cent of women by the end of this year, while 50 per cent of the chairs of these influential committees should be women by late 2018.

“Gender inequality is evident across the university with the result that many women feel undervalued and ignored,” the report states.

“At a human level, this is clearly unacceptable. It also undermines the university’s commitment to excellence by failing to develop the talents of its entire staff.”

NUI Galway has taken steps to address gender equality issues with the appointment of Prof Anne Scott as vice-president for equality and diversity, the first appointment of its kind in an Irish University.


AND FROM VILLAGE MAGAZINE (APRIL 13TH):

A senior member of administration at NUI Galway has made a complaint under the 2014 whistleblower Act about alleged irregularities in the appointment of people to senior teaching and administrative positions.

The controversy is the latest in a succession of rows between staff and management at NUIG which has seen the Equality Tribunal make serious findings of gender discrimination against the college. Other cases by women alleging discrimination are making their way through the tribunal and at least one has been lodged with the High Court forcing the embattled NUIG president, Jim Browne, to issue a statement in recent weeks insisting that he has no evidence that discrimination is widespread within NUIG.

He was responding to a letter from the vice-president of SIPTU, Gene Mealy, which represents more than 700 workers in NUIG, claiming that “widespread problems of discrimination persist across all grades of staff” and that there has been “a proliferation of precarious employment contracts which we believe are inherently discriminatory”. The union criticised management for failing to engage with the State’s industrial relations machinery. Browne rejected the assertions by Mealy and urged the union to “bring any evidence of discrimination to the attention of our director of HR and organisational development, Chris McNairney. I am sure he will investigate them thoroughly and professionally”.

Regular reports in the Connacht Tribune posed questions over the appointment of consultants, Results Through People Ltd., at a cost of €180,000, by the School of Law for just 22 months work. Last year PR firm Drury/Porter Novelli, was commissioned to supplement the five person NUIG communications department when the college became the centre of an international media storm over a health questionnaire for job applicants which included questions about women’s menstrual cycles, and gynaecological and prostate problems.

The union committee has also expressed a lack of confidence in the independence of the newly appointed vice-president for equality and diversity. Ann Scott, formerly of Dublin City University and Liverpool John Moore University, who was appointed to the position in recent months at an advertised annual salary of between €106,000 and €136,000.

The remuneration also annoyed lecturing and other staff who have witnessed a sharp growth in contract-based, low paid employment since Browne took up the president’s position in the late 2000s. Suspicions of an “old boys club” at NUIG emerged in a survey last year which found that male and female staff used terms such ‘misogynist’, ‘aggressive’, ‘toxic’, ‘bullying’ and ‘cronyist’ to describe the culture at the college.

Similar allegations of discrimination and improper promotions have been made at UCC, DCU and UL as third level administrators pursue an aggressive embrace of the corporatist model so widespread in British and US colleges.

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You can also read both news stories by clicking on the links below:

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/mandatory-gender-quotas-proposed-for-nui-galway-1.2609757

http://www.villagemagazine.ie/index.php/2016/04/10906/

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