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: