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Three years later and women are still fighting for justice at NUI Galway!

Today is the third anniversary of Micheline’s historic win for gender equality.

It was Nov. 13, 2014, when the Equality Tribunal issued its landmark ruling concluding that Micheline was discriminated against because of her gender when she was not promoted at NUI Galway in 2009, citing the university’s ‘ramshackle approach to the process’. That promotion round saw 16 men but only one woman promoted to Senior Lecturer, even though 52% of Junior Lecturers were women. Yet what has NUI Galway done since then to right the injustice against women in academia? Five other women who applied for promotion in the 2008-2009 round were exposed to the same injustices as Micheline — four of them are STILL fighting for promotion! Let’s review what has happened in the three years since the ruling.

Micheline’s win was the first time any woman in academia in Ireland or the UK had proved gender discrimination in promotion. It was major news in both countries on TV and radio and in newspapers and was followed by the release in early December 2014 of statistics gathered by Ireland’s Higher Education Authority showing the percentage of women at each level in Irish universities. The low percentage of women in senior academic positions resulted in another massive amount of publicity and genuine shock that Ireland was so poor in this sector, which had been assumed to be more enlightened. In fact, Ireland proved to be one of the worst countries in Europe for the university glass-ceiling index, which puts a spotlight on the lack of women in senior academic posts.

Having won her case and produced all this publicity, Micheline met with NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne. She thought that telling him all she had found out through the case, much of which had not been made public and would be even more embarrassing to NUI Galway, would result in the five other women shortlisted in the 2008-2009 round being promoted. When he refused, she felt she had no alternative but to donate her €70,000 award to the five women so they could file court cases as they were out of time to go to the Equality Tribunal. When the media discovered her offer, there was even more publicity that first week of December.

That same week, Jim Browne indicated he would set up a Task Force to look into the discrimination of women at NUI Galway. He insisted the move was coincidental, planned before Micheline’s win and the bad publicity. Making things worse, he claimed to RTE NEWS that Micheline had agreed to be appointed to the Task Force. It was this claim which led to Micheline setting her Three Conditions before she would agree to serve on the Task Force. These conditions were: promotion for the five other women, correct the gender bias in the subsequent 2013-2014 promotion round, and ensure that future rounds promote the same proportion of women as there are at the level from which they are being promoted.

Micheline then gave a speech about her case in a lecture theatre which proved nowhere near large enough to hold all the staff and students who came to hear her speak. It was there that this Equality Campaign was founded to support her and the achievement of her Three Conditions. As we are not NUI Galway staff, but students, former students and others, we have been able to organise things which would have been difficult for staff to undertake. We set up a petition on Change.org, which as of this morning has 4,085 signatures; we undertook poster campaigns in the university highlighting the gender bias there. Most famously, we sponsored a cartoon exhibition that NUI Galway took down in the middle of the night but then relented and allowed us to put it up again after the resulting bad publicity.

Meanwhile, the five women had been meeting with university management to try to resolve the injustice, to no avail. In their first meeting with Jim Browne, he told them he ‘could not and would not promote them’ and that they did not deserve promotion. In the second, attended by the Chair of the Governing Body, Catherine McGuinness, they were told that they had to prove they deserved the promotion in court and warned by Chairperson McGuinness that they might not win. One of the women decided to pursue her case separately in the Labour Court, but four of the women initiated a High Court case in April 2015 that the university then sought to have thrown out. It was this hypocrisy that resulted in the Equality Campaign’s very successful benefit concert in March 2016 to raise money for the women’s High Court action and to highlight a demonstration against NUI Galway’s hypocrisy outside the court that May. NUI Galway’s response, three days before the planned demo, was to enter into mediation with the four women. But the mediation proved to be only a tactic to avoid the demonstration – the offer made to the women was not reasonable – and a new date for the High Court pre-hearing was set for March of next year.

Something else which came out of the initial publicity about Micheline’s historic win was the Expert Panel set up by Ireland’s Higher Education Authority to make recommendations on what to do about gender discrimination at Ireland’s universities. Again the man setting it up, chief executive John Boland, insisted at the time, like Jim Browne with his Task Force, that this move was purely coincidental and something he had always intended to do. The panel recommended in a report published in June 2016 (see Page 76 of report) that all future government research funding to Irish universities be dependent on receiving an Athena SWAN award. The first hurdle set by the funding bodies was achieving the Bronze level by 2019. In September, NUI Galway became the first Irish university to be turned down for the second time for the Bronze award, with the court cases filed by the women cited. All the other universities by then had received the award, except Maynooth, which plans to submit a second application this month.

All this pressure has resulted in some progress at NUI Galway. Last month, one of the five women accepted an offer which gave her a promotion now rather than backdated to 2009. A week later, NUI Galway announced the results of the university’s recent gender-corrected promotion round to Senior Lecturer, saying 58% were women. However, as we pointed out in our post, in actuality, 50% of those promoted were female. Still, this is a positive result that we believe is down to the pressure from this campaign. When earlier this year, NUI Galway announced a quota of 40% for women, we made much of how this was actually only 1% higher than the previous promotion round had achieved. With this latest result, finally the first of Micheline’s Three Conditions was on its way to being fulfilled. Though, as we pointed out, there was still a lot NUI Galway had to do to complete it.

Micheline, who returns on the 22nd of this month from her US tour, has told us that she is now even more determined to ensure that all five women who filed the court cases get all they deserve. She believes that it is their bravery in challenging NUI Galway that has allowed the changes for Irish academic women that have occurred over the last three years. So now we must all ensure they get what they have been fighting for.

Micheline’s first action will be an Open Letter to NUI Galway’s Athena SWAN team, to be sent from the West Coast of the US where she is now staying, stating that NUI Galway must resolve the injustice of the discriminatory 2008-2009 promotion round before the university applies again for an Athena SWAN award. This is her first move in ensuring that NUI Galway does not receive the award unless the university corrects this past gender discrimination. If NUI Galway applies without doing this, she will, with our help, be calling on supporters to flood the Athena SWAN organisation with objections to NUI Galway’s application. We will be publishing her Open Letter once it has been sent. Watch this space!

 

 

 

 

 

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Micheline’s warm welcome continues in US – and she encounters a related surprise along the way

 

Micheline (from right, clockwise) visited feminist Emma Goldman’s gravestone in Chicago (where she was about to be filmed), met women in a local café after filming in the freezing Chicago winds, and was presented with a special sweatshirt by the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Buffalo, NY.


Two months in, Micheline’s US tour is still going strong. We were able to get some of the highlights from her in a phone call from Butte, Montana, where she and Eddie continued filming even while it was snowing hard!

Staying true to her goal to re-create her grandmother Hanna’s experiences, Micheline has traveled primarily by train. In her tour of upstate New York, she got off at several cities along the way, gave a talk at each that night, and then travelled in the morning to the next destination – going from Boston to Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, NY, before continuing on Amtrak for the 12-hour, 550-mile overnight trip to Chicago.

“It’s just what Hanna did,” Micheline explained. “Travelling on her own from place to place, being met at each station by a new group of Irish-American supporters and giving a talk there. But she did it for most of the 18 months she was in America, while her son –  my father – was looked after. Now that I am doing some of the same, I have a real sense of just what she took on.”

Micheline always received a warm welcome, but each city was a bit different:

  •  In Syracuse, NY, her talk, attended by the Irish-American community and students, was hosted by academics at Le Moyne College.
  • The Rochester talk was led by members of the local Irish-American Cultural Institute and hosted in St John Fisher College. While there, she visited the former Convention Center where Hanna spoke. Micheline said it is now a theater that happened to be featuring a play about Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, local suffrage campaigners – one for women, one for the black vote.
  • In Buffalo, members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, some of whom wore kilts in her honour, hosted her with a warm welcome at the Irish Cultural Centre, presenting her ceremoniously with an AOH sweatshirt at the end.
  • She spent five days in Chicago, speaking twice at the Literary Salon, as part of the iBAM! Festival, the city’s annual celebration of Irish Books, Arts and Music.
  • Micheline also gave a lecture to Loyola University, Chicago, about the gender equality campaign at NUI Galway.
  • In addition, she visited the gravestones of Emma Goldman and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, two feminist, anarchist and socialist friends of Hanna who were Wobblies – members of the Industrial Workers of the World union that started in Chicago in 1905.

Micheline said she enjoys talking to the people she meets on the trains – “just the randomness of it.” A man on the train to Chicago was so fascinated by what she told him and how it related to some of his own research that he researched more of Hanna’s story, sending around 30 news clippings to Micheline. “I don’t know if Hanna talked to people on the trains,” she said. “I presume she did because she was no longer travelling incognito once she was in the US and wanted to get her message across to everyone.”

There is a more personal story, too. Arriving in Chicago, Micheline then took a train to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she met two long-lost cousins – Michael Getty, who drove 500 miles from Omaha, Nebraska, to be there, and Tim Galvin, who lives outside Milwaukee.

Their great-great-grandmother was Johanna Sheehy, sister of Micheline’s great-great-grandfather Richard Sheehy (and Hanna’s grandfather).

Neither of them has been to Ireland, but they were very happy to meet Micheline. “And Michael is the spitting image of my brother Alan!” she said.

Michael and his brother even went to Chicago to hear Micheline speak. When they said goodbye, she said, “it was quite moving.”

Micheline is continuing her travels in Montana, Washington State and Canada before heading to California and then back to New York and New Jersey. She is now in British Columbia, Canada, where her Sheehy Culhane cousins – sisters Róisín and Dara – live, but where Hanna could not go, as the British would have arrested her.

 

 

 

 

Pressure on NUIG women lecturers from Athena SWAN, research funding link is debated in London magazine

The women junior lecturers’ gender discrimination court cases at NUI Galway have attracted the attention of a UK publication in an article published last week as well as a rebuttal to that article in a letter by Micheline Sheehy Skeffington that was published this week.

Times Higher Education (THE), a weekly magazine based in London, published an article on Oct. 12th arguing that linking an Athena SWAN award to university research fundinis putting undue pressure on the women to accept a settlement. 

According to the article, Kelly Coate, vice-dean of education in the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy at King’s College London and a former lecturer at NUI Galway, said: “The Athena SWAN programme is being used as a mechanism to bully the women into accepting a derisory offer.”

But Micheline, in her Oct. 19th letter, strongly disagrees. She wrote that:

The pressure resulting from the failure of NUI Galway to receive the bronze award is excellent. Yes, the four women have been pressured by management to accept an inadequate offer, but that is because management itself is under even more pressure. Until the recent mediation, NUI Galway’s management had made no attempt to resolve this matter.

She added:

Continued pressure related to the Athena SWAN award will eventually result in these women receiving what they deserve – not the derisory compensation recently offered by NUI Galway management, but promotion to senior lecturer backdated, as mine was, to 2009.

Below is Micheline’s letter to THE in full:

Athena SWAN pressure will make difference

October 19, 2017

In your article “Athena SWAN funding link under scrutiny”, you report that Kelly Coate has written to Athena SWAN to question the linking of its award to research funding because it has put pressure on the four women taking High Court cases against my university, the National University of Ireland, Galway, for gender discrimination. These cases arose out of my own equality tribunal win for gender discrimination in the same 2008-09 round of promotion to senior lecturer, when 16 men were promoted but only one woman, even though 52 per cent of junior lecturers were women.

I totally disagree with Coate. The pressure resulting from the failure of NUI Galway to receive the bronze award is excellent. Yes, the four women have been pressured by management to accept an inadequate offer, but that is because management itself is under even more pressure. Until the recent mediation, NUI Galway’s management had made no attempt to resolve this matter.

I accept that the Athena SWAN award cannot be tied to an unproven legal case because the university involved could be innocent, but my equality tribunal ruling has already shown that the 2008-09 round of promotion was discriminatory. Furthermore, the ruling mentioned the other women. Despite this, NUI Galway has never agreed to an independent investigation. It was management’s refusal to do this that forced the four women to take their High Court cases (they were out of time to take an equality tribunal case). This is why Athena SWAN must insist that NUI Galway deal with this discrimination before awarding the institution bronze.

Continued pressure related to the Athena SWAN award will eventually result in these women receiving what they deserve – not the derisory compensation recently offered by NUI Galway management, but promotion to senior lecturer backdated, as mine was, to 2009. I am certain of this because through my case I saw the application forms of everyone shortlisted for that round. I saw proof that all four of these women were discriminated against as much as I was.

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington
National University of Ireland, Galway

Click on the link below to read the original article, which appeared in THE’s Oct. 12th issue:

Athena SWAN funding link under scrutiny in discrimination row

Click on the link below to read Micheline’s letter as it appears in the Oct. 19th edition of THE:

Athena SWAN pressure will make difference

Leaked offer document reveals NUIG management’s hypocrisy, dishonesty and bullying

The campaign has been sent a copy of the document which details the terms of the final offer to the four women taking court cases. This document, which is appended below, was presented at the last meeting of the university’s Governing Body as mentioned in our previous posting, which also announced NUI Galway’s failure to gain an Athena SWAN award.

Since then, the four women have been under enormous pressure to accept this offer. This pressure has not come just from university management but also from academics, one of them female, with a vested interest in resolving the cases. Dr Elizabeth Tilley, who has been taking a Labour Court case against NUIG for the same promotion round, has accepted an offer made to her, which presumably was similar to this one. The four have been told how unreasonable they are now being and how the University’s Athena SWAN application, and thus all future government grant funding, depends on them being reasonable, etc… But the situation NUI Galway now find themselves in with Athena SWAN is one of their own making. The four women repeatedly delayed starting court cases in an attempt at a resolution, meeting with President Jim Browne several times. He made no offer then. Instead, he told them it was for the women to prove they deserved promotion through the courts!

As well as the hypocrisy of putting the blame on the women, this document is also dishonest and bullying. It is, in fact, typical of the way management has behaved. We will point out five examples:

1. The offer includes €50,000 as compensation ‘in recognition of the administrative flaws identified in the 08/09 SL process’. This is a reference to one of the promoted men in 2008/2009 not being eligible to apply, as revealed by Micheline’s Equality Tribunal ruling. But we have already shown  this was not an administrative mistake, as claimed by management, but a deliberate act by management to promote the ineligible man concerned so he could take up a senior management role. We have so far not revealed all the documents we have which prove this, as some give the name of the individual and we believe he has suffered enough. When management discovered we had these documents (which were sent to management when they were sent to us), Jim Browne wrote to the man and asked him to resign his post because he was not good enough at it!

2. The document detailing the offer fails to acknowledge that the women have a far greater case than simply one man being ineligible for promotion. Micheline has always said that her access to all the application forms through her Equality Tribunal case showed her there were six other men who did not deserve promotion over the women. We have already worked out who four of them must be: three were men recently appointed to the top end of the Junior Lecturer pay scale whose research brought in large grant money. They didn’t qualify for promotion according to the guidelines for the ’08/’09 round but were fast tracked, nonetheless. A retired senior academic has told Micheline he saw a list of individuals with FT written next to some names. We believe that was management arranging for that fast tracking.

3. The offer includes the possibility of the four women’s current application for promotion to Senior Lecturer being assessed by an ‘independent, external academic peer review adjudicator panel’. Well, if NUI Galway can do that for the current promotion round, why can’t they do it for the round of ’08/’09? They still have all the application forms for the four women as well as the men who were promoted – we know that because they had to supply them in Micheline’s case to the Equality Officer, who concluded that Micheline deserved promotion over several of the promoted men (see the ruling). But management has never, ever considered any such investigation into the ’08/’09 promotion round. Why? Because it was corrupt and they were at fault.

4. The document makes reference to a ‘duty of care’ that NUI Galway has towards the academics involved in assessing the ’08/’09 round. This is the most gob-smacking claim in this document. Duty of care? What about their duty of care to the four women they have treated so atrociously? What about their duty of care to all the other women whose careers have been blighted by their misogyny and bullying? What about their duty of care to all the academics, male and female, who have been excluded from promotion because of management’s sole pursuit of large research grants? And what about their duty of care to the poor ineligible guy whom they promoted and then forced to resign when his appointment became an embarrassment? Management are not really concerned with their duty of care to the academics involved in the ’08/’09 selection process – many of whom will now be retired and none of whom are going to be harmed by this. It is themselves that management are concerned about protecting!

5. The document concludes with some typical bullying by management.  ‘As NUI Galway is a public body, it is obliged to seek legal costs against the plaintiffs if it is successful in its defence of the litigation issued against it. These actions are likely to cause extensive cost.’ Thus, management first told the women it is for them to prove they deserve promotion through the courts, then tried to have their cases thrown out on a technicality so they couldn’t put forward the details of what actually happened in the 2008-2009 promotion round, and now is threatening them that if they don’t agree to this offer, then they will be hit with all the university’s legal costs as well as their own. That is both hypocrisy and bullying.

What management utterly fails to understand, and what anyone who thinks this is a fair offer also fails to comprehend, is that the four women simply seek due recognition of their worth, not compensation to make up for it. They deserved to be promoted to Senior Lecturer in ’08/’09. If that round had not been so utterly corrupt, they would all have been promoted. That is how 16 men were promoted in ’08/’09 and only one woman, even though more than 50% of Junior Lecturers were women. These four women also deserved the opportunity to put themselves forward for a professorship, as they could have if they had been promoted to Senior Lecturer. Most of those 16 men are now professors. In a fair system, most of these women, including Micheline, would be professors by now. This is what promotion in academia is really about: recognition by your peers of your academic worth. But at NUI Galway, only 12% of professors are women.

Up until now, this campaign has never called for an independent investigation of the ’08/’09 round of promotion because we believed that any body set up by NUI Galway would not be independent. We knew President Jim Browne would do the same as he did with the ‘independent’ Task Force investigating gender inequality in NUI Galway. He chose all the members himself and included cronies he could trust who knew nothing of gender equality, but would make sure it did what he wanted and no more. But Jim will be retired in three months to be replaced by Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh of UCD. When the new president of the University of Limerick took up his post, he immediately set up an independent investigation into the scandal involving the bullying of women by management that had occurred under the previous president. We now call on the next NUI Galway president, Professor Ó hÓgartaigh, to do the same when he takes up his post. He has nothing to lose by doing this and much to gain. We also encourage the four women to stand firm and let management squirm. What the four women are doing is not solely for them, it is for all academic women, all of whom deserve due recognition of their worth.

Attached below is the three-page document circulated to all members of NUI Galway’s Governing Body:

Udaras Memo 1Udaras memo 2Udaras memo 3

 

Government task force on gender bias welcomed, but at NUI Galway and other Irish Universities, it helps to look at where the power is

In July, the Higher Education Authority issued this year’s figures for gender percentages in Irish Universities and other higher-education institutions. Because this Web page focused on the four female lecturers’ mediation coming to an end at NUI Galway, we made no comment on the HEA report – and we didn’t produce an updated version of our table ranking the Irish Universities. But we found we didn’t need to: This year’s HEA figures got a lot more media coverage than last year’s, including Page One of The Sunday Times and most reports, including RTE‘s, singled out NUI Galway for still being the worst. It’s even come to the attention of the French science monitoring service!

As a result, we were pleased to hear the announcement by Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor that she would be setting up a Task Force and was inclined to implement gender quotas in promotion to correct the imbalance in Irish Universities. We hope the Minister will note what happened at NUI Galway when an Equality Task Force was appointed in 2015. President Jim Browne made much of the Task Force and the resulting adoption of gender quotas at NUI Galway. But where are we two years later? We have a new promotion round this year from Junior to Senior Lecturer where the gender quota adopted is 40% – just 1% higher than the percentage of women promoted in the last round and 12% lower than the percentage of Junior Lecturers who are women. If it is to have any meaningful effect, the minimum gender quota adopted by the new Task Force must, at the very least, reflect the percentage of women in the positions from which they are being promoted. The quotas should also apply to appointments from outside.

NUI Galway has a sorry record of proclaiming improvements for women and then backtracking on its commitments – as Micheline keeps pointing out.  President Browne also likes to claim that the 2015 HEA report into gender discrimination, commissioned shortly after his Task Force was formed, somehow came about through his efforts and not because of Micheline’s Equality Tribunal win. That HEA report made many excellent recommendations, including regarding the appointment of University presidents, which it considered critical in order to effect real change in the third-level sector. Regarding appointment criteria for president, candidates should have ‘demonstrable experience of leadership in advancing gender equality’ and this should be ‘included in the recruitment criteria and the framework for evaluating the performance of candidates’ (p. 47). We have learned that, at a meeting where the process of the replacement of Jim Browne as President was discussed, NUIG Governing Body instructed NUIG management to implement this HEA recommendation. However, it was subsequently ignored, as is apparent from the ad and on-line brochure for the NUIG presidency. It says it all. So much for NUI Galway being ahead of the curve on correcting gender discrimination.

Everything we’ve seen so far at NUI Galway has been window dressing to make it look like the University is doing something when actually it is doing very little. They created a Vice President for Equality and Diversity and then must have given her a very limited brief. So, as well as rolling out a hugely expensive unconscious bias training programme, which has yet to prove its worth, they have increased the number of women on some committees and on the management team, so that at least some percentages look good.

However, if you want to assess change, you should look at where the power is. It was notable in the recent HEA figures that every single Irish university continues to have a man as President – as they always have. At NUI Galway, every College Dean, virtually every head of a Research Institute as well as the Registrar – the only posts with real power besides the President – is still a man, despite at least a dozen appointments in the last couple of years. Things will have changed when half of them are women.

We gather that the final short-list for the Presidency comprises seven candidates, of whom two are women. What are the chances of either woman being offered the post?

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Hanna and Me: Passing on the Flame: There are only 12 days left to raise the amount needed to fund the documentary film about the centenary of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington’s courageous speaking tour of the US in 1917. To help Micheline follow her grandmother and tell her own campaign story in the US, please support the crowdfunding here.

 

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

 

NUI Galway applies for gender equality award – again. Campaign supporters have until May 17th to voice opinions

The Campaign has learned that NUI Galway has resubmitted its application for an Athena SWAN Bronze award. The university’s application for the gender equality award was rejected in 2015, in the first round open to Irish institutions.

Such an award recognises that the “institution has a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff.” The Higher Education Authority last year stipulated that Irish universities should obtain at least a Bronze award if they are to continue receiving certain funds.

The Campaign feels strongly that NUI Galway does not deserve the award because it has failed to recognise key improvements it needs to make to eliminate discrimination against women. To date, everything NUI Galway has implemented has been to improve the University’s image without addressing the real problem of the culture of exclusion.

An Athena SWAN Bronze award is given to an institution that “recognises a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff: that includes [inter alia] [….] identifying both challenges and opportunities.” The key ‘challenges’ not addressed are outlined below.

Micheline will be sending a letter of objection regarding NUI Galway’s application to the UK-based Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), which manages the Athena SWAN awards. We urge any supporters who feel as we do, particularly if they are a member of staff, student or ex-student of NUI Galway, to also send a letter of objection.

Please send your objections to athenaswan@ecu.ac.uk no later than May 17th. They should be no more than 1,000 words.

The objections must be based on aspects of gender equality that the University is failing to address. Personal examples that you may know of are particularly useful. We would suggest the following points. If you have the time, it would be better to put these points in your own words rather than cut and paste them:

1) — The extreme gender imbalance that occurred in the round of promotions to Senior Lecturer in 2008/09 – 16 men (50% of candidates) and only one woman (6.7% of candidates) – has never been addressed by the University even though it has accepted in its submission that there was a problem. Six women were deemed suitable for promotion in that round, but not ranked high enough to be promoted. Subsequently, Micheline Sheehy Skeffington won a case in November 2014 at the Equality Tribunal on the grounds of gender discrimination and was promoted. Her Tribunal ruling made it abundantly clear that the issues were wider than just her case. In the Tribunal Conclusions (Section 4), the ruling mentions seven men against whom she compared more favourably, but who received higher scores than she did. In addition, three of the other five women are specifically mentioned as having been subject to indirect discrimination on the grounds of gender.

a. The University has never attempted to address this obvious case of gender discrimination and has never conducted an internal investigation of that promotion round. The five women also deemed suitable took court cases only after exhausting all other avenues over six months of trying to get the University to deal with the issue. Therefore, the court cases cannot be used as an excuse by NUI Galway for not addressing this issue. Provision for an independent investigation is made in the form of a Visitor under the Universities Act. Such an investigation should be part of the NUIG self-assessment for addressing gender imbalance in the institution.

2) — NUI Galway policy is now to have at least 40% women in key decision-making positions (see Section 4.4. Organisation & Culture of NUI Galway application).

a.  But in the past two 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.)

b.  The Academic Council, the University’s top academic decision-making body, is still more than 80 percent male. Of the 150 Council members, 121 are men, which amounts to 80.7%, and 29 are women, which amounts to 19.3%.

c.  More than 95% of new directors of Institutes and research programmes at the University are men.

d.  Therefore, this policy has not resulted in any substantial change in the representation of women in many of the important decision-making roles.

3) — 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). The Irish universities with the highest percentage of female senior staff are Limerick (33%) and Trinity (31%). The rest are: UCD (30%); Maynooth (29%); DCU (27%) and Cork (26%). Highlighting the gender bias further at NUI Galway, only 12% of its Professors are women while 52% of its Junior Lecturers are women.

a.  There has been no substantive change in the percentage of females at the Professor level over the last three years and the number of female Senior Lecturers has fallen since 2015 (see Table 3.2.1 of NUI Galway application).

4) — 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 (2013/14, see Table 4.3.1 of NUI Galway application). This is not a sufficient policy shift to bring about change and does not reflect the more than 50% female lecturers at the level below that.

HELPFUL LINKS

Here is the link for NUI Galway’s draft submission: https://www.nuigalway.ie/media/nuigalwayie/content/files/aboutus/DRAFT-Athena-SWAN-Application-March-2017.pdf

The website also includes a copy of an undated “Report on the Athena SWAN Culture Survey.” https://www.nuigalway.ie/media/nuigalwayie/content/files/aboutus/Athena-SWAN-Culture-Survey-report.pdf

The Campaign would like to point out another discrepancy here. The introduction of the report refers to the Culture Survey conducted by the Self-Assessment Team in March 2015. Why wasn’t a Culture Survey conducted in 2017?

The Guidelines for Athena SWAN awards are here: http://www.ecu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Athena-SWAN-Charter-Post-May-2015-guide-to-processes.pdf. NB submissions must not be anonymous and will be sent to NUI Galway for a response, if considered valid.

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington’s Equality Tribunal Ruling can be read here: http://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/Cases/2014/November/DEC-E2014-078.html