Reality speaks louder than public relations drivel, no matter how you spin it.
To wit, NUI Galway says it’s doing all it can to address gender inequality at the university. After all, the university has repeatedly pointed out, it set up a Task Force for Gender Equality, has adopted a mandatory female quota of at least 40% for the next promotion round to Senior Lecturer, and hired a Vice President of Diversity and Equality.
From our vantage point, these changes are merely window dressing.
The truth behind the changes?
- The task force was not independent and its scope was far too narrow, according to both the trade union SIPTU and Micheline Sheehy Skeffington.
- The report issued by the task force suggested a cascade system of promotion, but this is being watered down. Although 52% of Junior Lecturers are women, only 40% of those promoted to Senior Lecturer are required to be women, amounting to a 1% increase over the number of women promoted in the last round.
As Micheline wrote in a Letter to the Editor last month in the City Tribune, ‘The task force in itself was a face-saving exercise, as it had no brief to address past issues. … Specifically, it did not address the cases of the five other women who, like me, were deemed eligible, but who were not promoted. I know, from what I saw during my case, that they deserve promotion as much as I did.’
- The Vice President of Diversity and Equality earns more than €100,000 a year – more than it would cost to promote the five women.
- Further, the City Tribune revealed recently that concern was raised at a Governing Body meeting last November regarding how much her office was spending. Approximately €500,000 was mentioned as part of the cost of the office – including continuation of unconscious bias training costs.
This is the training that helps to stop staff from giving advantage to men over women. The meeting minutes, obtained by the Tribune through Freedom of Information, said that: ‘One member was extremely surprised at the cost of the unconscious bias training and would like to be convinced in respect of the impact of such training.’ An additional €120,000 was added for enhanced maternity coverage and €90,000 for research for staff returning from academic and carers’ leave, bringing gender equality-related expenses to €700,000. The amount of money involved is amazing, particularly when you compare it to how much less it would cost to promote the five women.
- Inspired by Micheline’s letter to the Tribune, the campaign has produced these posters (above and below) to highlight the window dressing by management.
As Micheline further explained in her Letter to the Editor, the university’s continued failure to address gender inequality – particularly regarding the five women who have taken the university to court – ‘is the clearest indication of their real attitude to women.’