Tag Archives: gender discrimination

Law journal article examines fallout from Sheehy Skeffington case, says implementation is key for change

  • The Sheehy Skeffington v NUI Galway decision helped expose systemic gender discrimination at Irish universities.
  • The landmark ruling led to the Higher Education Authority issuing a Gender Equality Review with recommendations for bringing about the radical change needed to ensure gender equality.
  • Unless implemented, the recommendations change nothing.

These are some of the main points of ‘Disrupting the Status Quo? Discrimination in Academic Promotions’, an eight-page article by Dr Shivaun Quinlivan, NUI Galway law lecturer, for the Irish Employment Law Journal.

While the HEA’s Gender Equality Review is in many respects radical, Dr Quinlivan concludes, ‘without implementation it is merely a report gathering dust on the shelves.’

The article, published last July, brings to the fore the core issues and requirements for effecting real change for gender equality in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Ireland by examining the Sheehy Skeffington case, which ‘has had repercussions far beyond the actual decision.’

In addition to referencing the Equality Tribunal’s characterisation of the Senior Lecturer interview process as ‘ramshackle’, the article outlined the bias in favour of men during the 2008-2009 Senior Lecturer promotion round during which 17 people were promoted – 16 men and 1 woman.

The article is the first clear acknowledgement of the combined effects of the Micheline’s Three Conditions campaign and the SIPTU equality campaign.

Essentially, the article looks at:

  1. The wider effects of the ruling in Micheline’s case, which proved direct and indirect discrimination, and was ‘significantly more far reaching’ than Dr Sheehy Skeffington, leading to lawsuits filed by five other women as well as the HEA report.
  2. How the next highest-ranked applicant (Dr Elizabeth Tilley) should never have had to take her case to court after it was revealed that one of the successful candidates wasn’t even eligible for promotion.
  3. The furor over the discrimination raised by SIPTU and the Micheline’s Three Conditions Campaign.
  4. The HEA report’s emphasis on the need for an ‘organisational and cultural shift’, noting that the authors of the report would ‘not have believed it necessary’ to have to make such radical recommendations.
  5. How the ‘disparity of power and position’ (with respect to gender) across the HEI sector is highlighted in the report.
  6. The cascade system for gender quotas* and how there is resistance even from women despite studies proving they increase, not decrease, excellence. (*One of Micheline’s Three Conditions).
  7. The glass ceiling is noted as being clearly between Lecturer and Senior Lecturer, not at the Professor level.

The Quinlivan article also mentions the HEA recommendation stating that funding should be contingent on the institution receiving a minimum Bronze Athena SWAN award. NUI Galway, which has yet to achieve Bronze level, submitted its third application for such an award in November 2017.

The article’s emphasis on the need to change the culture of an institution is significant as such change is not quantifiable in easy metrics, a factor picked up by the HEA report:

http://hea.ie/assets/uploads/2017/04/hea_review_of_gender_equality_in_irish_higher_education.pdf  on p. 17.

Dr Quinlivan’s article can be read in full here.

Also of interest is that in the most recent HEA report (July 2017; http://hea.ie/assets/uploads/2017/07/HEA-Institutional-Staff-Profiles-Gender-July-2017-003.pdf), Athena SWAN awards applied for or obtained are listed for each institution.

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Is NUI Galway deliberately hiding its re-application to Athena SWAN to prevent objections?

On the heels of the successful #SolidariTEA held last week by NUI Galway staff and students in support of the four female lecturers who have taken their battle for promotion to the High Court, we thought an update on the latest round of Athena SWAN applications was warranted.
The word around the university is that NUI Galway submitted a third application for the award by the Nov. 30th deadline. If so, this means NUI Galway took the action despite Micheline’s Open Letter last month and its insistence that the university address the outstanding gender discrimination from the 2008/2009 promotion round before applying again for the award, which recognises academic institutions for their commitment to gender equality. At least a Bronze level is required in order to be eligible to receive research funding from 2019 on.
NUI Galway’s action regarding the application is still unclear because there has been no official statement and the application has not been posted on the university website, as it is supposed to be. This is in contrast to Maynooth University, which not only announced on its website on Dec. 1st, the day after the closing date, that it had resubmitted an application for the award but also posted a copy of its application. Maynooth and NUI Galway are the only universities in Ireland yet to receive Bronze awards. However, this round constitutes Maynooth’s second attempt, not its third as in the case of NUI Galway. Every other Irish university, except NUI Galway, received a Bronze-level award on their second attempt.

Maynooth’s application includes some impressive facts, many of which show up NUI Galway. For instance:

  1. The percentage of professors at Maynooth University who are women has increased to 31%  This is the second-highest in the sector. At NUI Galway, just 13% of professors are female — the lowest in the sector.
  2. Based on feedback from its 2015 application, Maynooth University conducted a ‘culture’ survey  that included 106 survey questions and space for detailed comments. As far as we know, NUI Galway has undertaken no survey of its staff for its third application.
The campaign suspects that NUI Galway is deliberately avoiding letting anyone know about its Athena SWAN application in order to prevent objections. This would not be without precedent: NUI Galway posted its second application only after it was turned down. Until the rejection, the university had posted an incomplete draft.

Our campaign will find out the date that objections must be submitted by and will let you know. It looks like one objection could be NUI Galway’s failure to make its application available. Watch this space!

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.’

Really?

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

UPDATE:FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BENEFIT GIG, CHECK OUT OUR FACEBOOK PAGE AT https://www.facebook.com/events/668169246701296/

AND PLEASE SHARE THE LINK WITH FRIENDS! THE MORE PEOPLE WHO KNOW ABOUT THE CONCERT, THE MORE WHO WILL COME TO OFFER SUPPORT. WE THANK  YOU – AND THE 5 NUI GALWAY WOMEN LECTURERS THANK YOU. 

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/.

OF MOST USE: IF YOU CAN TAKE SOME TICKETS FROM US AND SELL THEM TO YOUR FRIENDS.

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.

mich-article