With the adoption of his Task Force report last May, President Jim Browne claimed NUI Galway would become a ‘leader in this space’ when it came to tackling gender inequality. At the time, this campaign celebrated achieving the first of Micheline’s three conditions, as the Task Force had recommended promotion quotas for women using a cascade system. But Micheline herself didn’t celebrate. She said she’d only believe it when she saw what management actually did. Well, it turns out Micheline was right to be sceptical as we’ve now found out how pathetic NUI Galway’s ‘serious’ attitude actually is!
Under the cascade system, the proportion of women promoted in each round is meant to match the proportion of women at the level from which they are being promoted. According to the HEA figures published last June, 52% of NUI Galway’s Lecturers are currently female so 52% of those promoted should be female. Even at this rate, it will be a long, long, time before the percentage of Senior Lecturers who are women rises from its present paltry 31% to 50%, and even longer before that feeds through in turn to an equal proportion of Professors who are women. It will, in fact, be decades. The justification for using a cascade system is that otherwise it would be unfair on the men. So you’d think a university seeking to be a ‘leader in this space’ and treat gender inequality with the ‘highest priority’ would at least be keen to get on with it. But no, it seems they are not.
If you take a look in the recent edition of the student’s Sin newspaper, the Head of Equal Opportunities, Aoife Cooke, is quoted in an article about what has happened two years on from Micheline’s Equality Tribunal win, and she gives away how many women the University is intending to promote in the next promotion to Senior Lecturer round.
Quote (Sin 22nd November) “….a key feature of [the promotions scheme] will be a mandatory gender quota, so it will be mandatory that at least 40% women will be successful in that round”
So it’s not going to be 52% after all — it is going to be just 40%! And that is hardly any actual increase. At the previous promotion round in 2013/14, once all of the many appeals had been dealt with, 39% of the promoted candidates were women. Which means the great radical gesture that Jim Browne trumpeted is being watered down by management to an increase of just one percent!!! You couldn’t make it up, could you!
So Micheline was right to be sceptical about Jim Browne’s claims for what NUI Galway would do, and Aoife Cooke’s patronising dismissal of Micheline in that same Sin article as being ‘out of touch’ is proved to be what it is – an attempt by someone who is selling management policy on ‘equality’ to undermine someone else who stands instead for the truth.
Here is Jim Browne in a press release quoted in various newspapers (e.g http://connachttribune.ie/union-slams-nuig-gender-equality-report-860/)
Welcoming the report, NUIG president Dr Jim Browne said: “I look forward to working with all staff, staff representatives and unions in addressing gender equality in a meaningful and serious way. In this way, I expect that NUIG will become a leader in this space.
“We made a commitment a year ago to addressing gender equality across the University with the highest priority. I now want to reiterate this commitment, as our Governing Body adopts this taskforce report and its recommendations.”
[*note: The task force recommendation actually states that the percentage of women promoted should match the percentage of women eligible for promotion in the level from which they are being promoted. For the last round the only criterion for eligibility was that the candidate should be a Lecturer ‘Above the Bar’ and have been confirmed in the post. We don’t have the figures for the percentage of eligible candidates who are women. However, as the promotion from Lecturer ‘Beneath the Bar’ to Lecturer ‘Above the Bar’ is non-competitive, and as far more women have been passed over for promotion than men over the years, we can’t see how the percentage of eligible candidates can be lower than 52%.]