Education News

Second National Review of Gender Equality Announced

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, has announced the second National Review of Gender Equality, which is being carried out by an expert group, on behalf of the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

Minister Harris said, “we have seen significant improvements across higher education when it comes to gender equality. But we acknowledge there is much more to be done. This review will assess progress since the first review of its kind in 2016 and make recommendations to ensure that gender equality is amplified in higher education institutions (HEIs) as they move into the future.”

“The expert group is expected to make five to ten high-level recommendations as to how, in their view, higher education institutions might enhance their equality policies and their implementation to support gender equality. We look forward to ensuring that we can continue to support and improve gender equality, and create an inclusive culture and environment where individuals are able to thrive, irrespective of gender.”

The expert group carrying out the second national review will consist of six national and international members with expertise and experience in the area of gender equality. Former Secretary General of the Department of Social Protection, Niamh O’Donoghue, will chair the group.

Niamh O’Donoghue, said, “diversity is a key strength of Irish higher education. Institutions which allow inequality to exist cannot perform to their full potential. The social and economic benefits of equality and diversity are undeniable. It is timely to consider how work on gender equality can be leveraged and diversified to ensure equality of opportunity for all staff.”

The Head of the HEA’s Centre of Excellence for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Dr Ross Woods, said, “this national review will allow us to quantify progress towards gender equality in higher education and make evidence-based decisions as to how we maintain this momentum. Our institutions have made significant advances in recent years, but this is a cultural problem that has by no means been fixed. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that gender equality initiatives are continued and amplified.”

The independent expert group members are:

  • Dr Allison Kenneally, Vice President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Waterford Institute of Technology
  • Dr Karl Kitching, Reader in Education Policy, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Marcela Linkova, Head of Centre for Gender and Science at the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences
  • Dr Philip Owende, Assistant Head of Academic Affairs, TU Dublin
  • Professor Anne Scott, former Vice President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, NUI Galway

The group will assess progress since 2016 by analysing progress to date, including a review of the implementation of the 2016 recommendations and analysis of data from the HEI Staff Profiles by Gender 2016-2021.

A key element of the review will be stakeholder consultation. The expert group will consult with key higher education stakeholders, including senior HEI representatives, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, funders and relevant state agencies. The HEA will also run an online consultation open to all staff in higher education in Ireland.

The final report will include an overview of gender equality in Irish higher education, focusing on what has worked well, what has not and what the next steps should be. It is expected to be published in late 2022.

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