Tag Archives: gender discrimination

More lack of transparency at NUI Galway revealed in big way

There is yet more lack of transparency at NUI Galway.

The University has more than €57 million in a private fund-raising foundation but has resisted declaring the funds despite government pressure, according to a blockbuster story in Tuesday’s Irish Times.

The Campaign has seen such lack of transparency before when it comes to promotions at the University. Some might call it hypocrisy.

The University steadfastly claims that it is ‘comprehensively addressing’ the gender inequality issue, but where is the real change to back up its claim?

If the University is truly addressing gender discrimination, then why have virtually all of the recent appointments for senior posts gone to men? As has been noted before on this website, of the five College Deans — all of whom are male — four have been replaced in the last three years – by four more men!

I think we can all agree that recruitment and appointments should – and must – be transparent at NUI Galway if the University is serious about addressing gender inequality. That’s why it’s so shocking that in NUI Galway’s recent job advertisement for a leader to succeed President Jim Browne, whose term ends next year, there is but a cursory mention of gender equality.

Such a poor reference is particularly glaring because a 2016 Higher Education Authority (HEA) report recommended that new university presidents have leadership skills in advancing gender equality and that this be included in recruitment requirements. (A link for the report is at: http://www.hea.ie/sites/default/files/hea_review_of_gender_equality_in_irish_higher_education.pdf).

Tuesday’s story in The Irish Times reported that NUI Galway and other colleges have now pledged to be more transparent regarding funds raised by private foundations, but went on to say that an independent review is ongoing at the University of Limerick.

More significantly, that review was resisted by UL until a new president – Prof Des Fitzgerald – took over in recent weeks.

Will the new president at NUI Galway be as forthcoming? And what about gender equality? The Campaign is concerned that if NUI Galway’s advertisement for a new president gives short shrift to gender equality, then the new president will not have the leadership skills to advance such equality – skills that were specifically recommended in last year’s HEA report on gender equality in Irish higher-education institutions.

And what about the origins of that HEA report? Yes, the Campaign has discovered even more questions about transparency.

NUI Galway’s draft of its application for the Athena SWAN Bronze Award at https://www.nuigalway.ie/media/nuigalwayie/content/files/aboutus/DRAFT-Athena-SWAN-Application-March-2017.pdf implies that Dr Browne was personally responsible for the commissioning of the report. The draft application states that:

‘In tandem with the establishment of the Gender Equality Task Force in NUI Galway, the President wrote to the then Chief Executive of the Irish Higher Education Authority and asked that the HEA set up a review of Gender Equality across the Irish Higher Education System. The HEA moved as requested and the HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions, under the chair of Dr Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Former EU Commissioner was established and reported in June 2016.’

If that’s the case, then why are the report’s very specific recommendations so ignored in the presidential recruitment brochure? (downloadable at https://candidates.perrettlaver.com/vacancies/255/president/

The Campaign could find only one mention of ‘gender’ – on Page 21 of the 25-page brochure. ‘Promote gender balance and equality of opportunity among students and employees of the University’ is one of the points listed under ‘Key Responsibilities’. How many points in all are listed? 10. Where does gender equality rank? 8th. And that one mention comes more than four-fifths of the way through the brochure.

Moreover, the Foreword to the 2016 report on gender equality written by the HEA’s chief executive indicates that it was commissioned by the HEA:

‘Reflecting the requirement, enshrined in higher education legislation, for institutions to promote gender-balance among students and staff, and for the Higher Education Authority to promote the attainment of equality of opportunity, we commissioned this review.’ 

There is no mention of NUI Galway requesting the review.

2016 HEA report

The Expert Group’s “HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions”, issued last June, makes a number of recommendations for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

On Page 47 of the report, Point 1.1 states the objective as: “To foster gender balance in the leadership of HEIs” (our emphasis) and recommends that the final pool of candidates for new university president comprise an equal number of women and men.

“The achievement of gender equality needs to be led from the top,” the report continues, “with the ultimate responsibility for its achievement sitting with the HEI president, or equivalent.

“Therefore, it is the Expert Group’s expectation that all candidates for presidential appointments will have demonstrable experience of leadership in advancing gender equality, and that this will be included in the recruitment criteria and the framework for evaluating the performance of candidates.”

The report recommendations don’t stop there: Point 1.2 states that the objective is “to ensure HEI leaders foster a culture of gender equality in their HEI” and, to do this, it recommends a requirement of appointment will be demonstrable experience of leadership in advancing gender equality.

The actual job description for a new president, as issued by NUI Galway, comes up way short of those recommendations.

The Irish Times story on the foundation funds can be read in full by clicking on this link: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/universities-resisted-declaring-tens-of-millions-in-assets-1.3084158#.WRqUjhwzZng



Benefit concert with The Stunning, Tommy Tiernan sold out!

The benefit concert this Wednesday at the Black Box is sold out.

The concert has been sold out for more than a week and both the organisers and the Town Hall Theatre Box Office have been turning ever-increasing numbers of people away.

Rose Foley, one of the organisers, commented, ‘The concert really seems to have caught people’s attention. There are 800 tickets and all of them started selling really quickly a couple of weeks back.  Now I figure we could have sold them twice over.’

It is a unique line-up. The Stunning have not played Galway since their amazing outdoor concert in the harbour for the Volvo Ocean Race in 2012, and they have never done a concert with comedian Tommy Tiernan. The line-up is completed by My Fellow Sponges, a band which is especially popular with NUI Galway students. They are all doing the benefit to support the five female lecturers taking legal cases for gender discrimination against NUI Galway.

‘I really appreciate what Tommy and the musicians are doing,’ Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington said. ‘Not only will we raise a lot of money for the women’s legal bills, but the concert has raised awareness of the High Court case that is happening on May 4th. I was particularly impressed with how Tommy agreed to do it. We wrote him a long e-mail explaining what it was all about and got one line back saying “I’m good to go!” ‘

If there are any supporters who have tickets they cannot use, they can return them to the campaign or if tickets were to be collected, let the campaign know whose name they were reserved under and we can re-use them.

And thank you for all your support!

NUI Galway management = Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy seems to be de riguer at NUI Galway.

On Wednesday, NUI Galway President Jim Browne revealed at his biannual speech the university’s hypocritical stance regarding the treatment of female staff, particularly the women who have sued the university in the High Court for gender discrimination, and then on Friday, Micheline further exposed the university’s hypocritical attitude towards the women in a Letter to the Editor in the Galway City Tribune.

Dr Browne gave his biannual speech to all NUI Galway staff last Wednesday and three women, including Micheline, stood up to raise the issue of the High Court gender discrimination case against the university and the dire treatment of women generally by NUI Galway positions. His response was interesting, to say the least.

The women highlighted that the case has been fought for 2 years, 4 months. They emphasised the ‘human cost’ as well as the ‘stress and strain’ caused by the case, saying it is ‘financially draining’ and an ‘emotionally and mentally crushing process.’

We are ‘putting our careers, wellbeing and finances on the line to fight for what is right,’ one of the women said, adding that the sacrifice is ‘not only for ourselves but, more importantly, for others.’

In the past, Dr Browne has responded to such statements with obvious annoyance, even outright anger.

This time, he claimed heartfelt concern.

‘I regret to the core what the five women are going through,’ he told them and added that he wished he could help them but he was unable to do anything about it, explaining that ‘the issue is very complicated.’


He has said in the past that ‘I can’t and won’t promote them’ and that it is for the women to prove they deserve promotion in court. That’s why the women filed the court case in the first place. Yet, instead of allowing the case to continue and let the facts come out, the university is dragging out the process – using taxpayers’ money while the women have to fund raise to pay their costs.

At the request of the university, a pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, May 4th in the High Court. Such a hearing will look only at the case’s legal basis – not the facts. In short, the hearing is merely an attempt to have the women’s court case thrown out so that the facts won’t be revealed to the public and the women won’t be able to prove that they were discriminated against.

According to The Irish Times, the preliminary issues centre on whether the lecturers’ claims can be dealt with by the High Court or must they be first determined by the Workplace Relations Commission and/or Circuit Court. Two years and four months later, this is where the case stands?

But wait, the hypocrisy at NUIG continues.

Mich letter

In a Letter to the Editor (reprinted in full above) in the most recent edition of the Galway City Tribune, Micheline exposed the hyprocrisy of NUI Galway management regarding the treatment of women at the university.

Micheline referred to an article in the March 17th edition in which NUI Galway rejected Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh’s claim that the university has done little for the female staff in the last two years.

According to the article (“We’re taking action,” Page 15), the university said it is ‘comprehensively addressing the issue at all levels.’

However, Micheline refuted this statement, saying, ‘Yet I see no evidence that key “college decision-making bodies” come anywhere near having the 40% of female representation they claim.’

Micheline pointed out that:

  1. In the past three years, four of the five male College Deans have been replaced – by four more men. (The College Deans are the Deans with the real power at the university.)
  2. The Academic Council, the top academic decision-making body, is still at least 80 percent male.
  3. More than 95% of new directors of Institutes and research programmes at the university are men.
  4. July 2016 HEA figures show that NUI Galway ranks a clear last of all third-level institutions with 21% female senior staff (Senior Lecturers and Professors).
  5. The mandatory 40% female quota being adopted for the next promotion round is only 1% higher than the percentage of women promoted in the last round.

‘The continued failure of NUI Galway to address this injustice is the clearest indication of their real attitude to women,’ she wrote.

She said, in fact, the university is doing all it can to prevent the five women from getting justice. That’s why the benefit concert is being held on Wednesday, March 29th at the Black Box. It is not just about raising money but also awareness of what is happening. And that’s why the Students’ Union is providing buses to Dublin on May 4th so that students can protest outside the High Court. The demonstration is being held precisely to highlight the hypocrisy of what NUI Galway are attempting to do. Please come and join us and the students! 12 noon at the High Court, May 4th! We will be arranging our own bus for supporters.


Benefit concert announced! Tiernan to host; The Stunning, My Fellow Sponges featured



Save the date: Wednesday, March 29th!

Three local acts — The Stunning, Tommy Tiernan and My Fellow Sponges — will play a benefit concert supported by the NUI Galway Students’ Union with all proceeds going towards the legal costs of the five women taking court cases against NUI Galway. The concert will be held at The Black Box on Wednesday 29th March.

And we can use your help!

We need as many people as possible at the concert. If you can come, please do. Tickets are available at the Town Hall Theatre box office or online at http://tht.ie/.


If you want to do this, just write to mich3c@gmail.com with your contact details and we’ll get back to you. And thank you in advance.

Update: We are also looking for sponsors for the concert as well as prizes for a raffle. Sponsors can be large businesses, small shops or individuals. If anyone can help with sponsorship, please write to mich3c@gmail.com.

The Stunning have not returned to play in Galway since their amazing outdoor concert in the harbour for the Volvo Ocean race in 2012. Tommy has a TV show and is filling venues around the country. My Fellow Sponges are a favourite band of NUI Galway students. What they all have in common is they want to put right the injustice being suffered by the five female lecturers because of NUI Galway’s intransigence.

Four of the five women lecturers are taking NUI Galway to the High Court. The first hearing is on Thursday, May 4th, when NUI Galway’s lawyers will attempt to have the cases thrown out on legal arguments alone. The fifth woman has been fighting NUI Galway in the Labour Court.

Tommy, the emcee for the benefit concert, will galvanise NUI Galway students to join the demonstration outside the High Court in Dublin against the university on May 4th. NUI Galway Students’ Union are providing free coaches.

“What NUI Galway is doing is deeply hypocritical,” said Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington. “First, they told the women they needed to prove their cases in court and now they are attempting to have those cases thrown out without them being heard. They claim this is because it will save money, but really it’s because of the scandal which will come out in open court if the women are allowed to present the details.”

These were the five women shortlisted and not promoted along with Micheline, who won an Equality Tribunal case in 2014 against NUI Galway for gender discrimination. Micheline says the case allowed her to see the application forms of all the shortlisted candidates; consequently, she knows these five women deserve to be promoted as much as she did. In that round, 16 men were promoted and only 1 woman, even though 52% of the Junior Lecturers eligible to apply were female.

Please help us make this benefit concert a success. Your support is greatly appreciated.



2 years after landmark case, not much has changed at NUIG

In City Tribune article by Dara Bradley,  Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington discusses the gender discrimination case she won in November 2014. Two years later, NUI Galway still has the lowest percentage of senior female academics at Irish universities. What’s more, five other women lecturers at NUI Galway who were interviewed in the same round in 2009 STILL have not been promoted. ‘It would make sense to promote the five women’, said Micheline. ‘The bad publicity arising from it has taken its toll.’

The complete article follows below.


Connacht Tribune: Micheline’s battle for rights continues family tradition

(Summary: Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington and her fight for gender equality as well as her family’s illustrious history was the lead story in the Connacht Tribune’s T2 Lifestyle magazine this week. The story follows in full below.)

Fighting for justice is in Micheline’s bloodlines

by Judy MurphyApr 21, 2016

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington at her home in Clarinbridge: “Not everyone was told as a child about a left-handed grandmother who was smashing windows,” she says. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.
Micheline Sheehy Skeffington at her home in Clarinbridge: “Not everyone was told as a child about a left-handed grandmother who was smashing windows,” she says. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle – Judy Murphy meets Micheline Sheehy Skeffington who is pursuing her family’s proud tradition of battling against wrongs

I often say I come from a long line of jail-birds and troublemakers,” says botanist and academic Micheline Sheehy Skeffington.

She hasn’t let the family tradition down, as the authorities at NUIG found out to their cost in 2014 when the lecturer won a gender discrimination case against the university at the Equality Appeals Tribunal.

If they’d studied their history more closely, those in NUIG who contested her charge of discrimination might have realised the calibre of person they were dealing with.

On the day we meet, Micheline is preparing a talk about her grandfather, the renowned journalist, social activist, women’s rights campaigner and pacifist Francis Sheehy Skeffington who was murdered on April 26, 1916.

Francis (Frank) had resigned as registrar of UCD in 1904 over that university’s failure to grant equal rights to female students, just one stance he took in a life of social activism.In 1914, Frank served time in prison because of his campaign against recruitment to British Army when World War One broke out. He once stated he was prepared to die for Ireland, but not to kill for it. He opposed the Easter Rising because he felt it was not the way for Ireland to achieve independence.

One hundred years ago next Tuesday, Francis Sheehy Skeffington was murdered in Dublin’s Portobello Barracks on the instructions of British Army officer Captain Bowen-Colthurst.

Frank had been arrested the previous day while trying to prevent looting as the Rising raged.

The unarmed pacifist had witnessed Colthurst shooting an innocent young man, who subsequently died. That was largely why Colthurst had Frank murdered, according to Micheline.

His wife, Hanna, Micheline’s grandmother, was as formidable as her husband, and as staunch a campaigner on social issues and women’s rights.

Offered £10,000 by British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith in compensation for Frank’s death, she unequivocally rejected it. Hanna wanted an inquiry so the truth could emerge. As a result of her courage and integrity, Colthurst was court-martialled and found guilty but criminally insane.

Not long back from the battlefields of World War I, he was put in charge at Portobello while the normal captain was away. Colthurst served a year in Broadmoor Lunatic Asylum for Frank’s death, then emigrated to Canada.

Hanna and Frank’s only child, Owen, was Micheline’s father. When Micheline was a child, Owen frequently remarked that she was left-handed like Hanna. That resonated.

“Not everyone was told as a child about a left-handed grandmother who was smashing windows,” Micheline remarks over tea in the conservatory of her home in Clarinbridge. The converted cottage is comfortable but unshowy, and houses a meditation space where her partner, Nick, holds meditation sessions. He, too, is a botanist and their traditional conservatory is home to plants of all shapes and sizes.

Micheline’s grandfather, Francis, met Hanna Sheehy, who came from a nationalist family, at UCD where both were students – although women weren’t allowed to attend lectures with male students.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

BE MINDFUL TO WOMEN: Peaceful Protest at NUIG Conference Raises Awareness of Discrimination

Three NUI Galway lecturers were among the protesters handing out leaflets at the university's Mindful Way conference on Friday, Oct. 9th.

GALWAY (Oct. 9th) — Three NUI Galway lecturers greeted participants in the university’s Mindful Way conference with a clear message yesterday. They were among protesters handing out leaflets seeking the promotion of five women who have taken their gender discrimination cases against NUI Galway to the High and Labour courts.

The point of yesterday’s peaceful protest at NUI Galway came across loud and clear: BE MINDFUL TO WOMEN.  Several women, including three NUI Galway lecturers — two current and one emeritus — participated in the demonstration held at the entrance to the university’s Mindful Way conference.

Several women handed out leaflets to conference participants pointing out that if NUI Galway is really interested in leading the charge in mindfulness, then it needs to take compassionate and moral action by promoting five female lecturers who were wrongfully overlooked for promotion more than five years ago. These lecturers have been forced to seek justice in costly court battles against the university.

The leaflet features a picture of the Buddha and states:

‘The Buddha said that mindfulness is dependent on the open heart of compassion and the clear mind of moral integrity.

 ‘We call on the University President, Jim Browne, to demonstrate he’s serious about a ‘mindfulness culture’ by promoting the five female academics going to the High Court to prove they should be promoted along with Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, who won her Equality Tribunal case. This would be the generous, compassionate and moral action to be expected if NUI Galway is really trying to develop a mindfulness culture.’

The back of the leaflet cites key facts, including that NUI Galway eliminated a mindfulness programme just two years ago. The programme was free and was popular with women.  


Area mindfulness teachers and meditation centres also sent a letter to Dr Browne voicing their concerns regarding the Mindful Way conference. The letter — which notes that NUI Galway have had a series of court cases involving disputes with their staff, many involving bullying and gender discrimination — calls on the university to practice mindfulness by promoting the five female academics.

‘This will save the five women the angst and expense of court cases, and would be the generous and moral action to be expected if NUI Galway really are trying to develop a mindfulness culture,’ the letter states.

If you would like to read the entire letter, click on the following link: 

Letter text sangha