The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) is calling for greater efforts to address gender discrimination against women academics in third-level institutions, following the new figures for 2014 revealing that just 29% of senior academics are women.
According to Joan Donegan, Deputy General Secretary of IFUT, while there was full gender balance at lecturer levels in 2014, with 51% female participation, women are not receiving promotions to senior academic positions.
In a press release from IFUT, Ms Donegan explained that Higher Education Authority (HEA) data to the end of 2014 shows that just 35% of senior lecturers, 26% of assistant professors and 19% of professor positions are held by women.
Donegan observed that the academic promotion figures for NUI Galway are particularly “lamentable.” Although 53% of NUI Galway lecturers are female, just 30% of senior lecturers, 10% of assistant professors and 14% of professors are female. “Depressingly, that university, rather than learning from its mistakes appears to have hunkered down and is currently, we understand, gearing up to take a very hard, legalistic and confrontational attitude to… women employees who have decided to act against discrimination,” she said.
The majority of other Irish universities now accept that gender equality is an ‘institutional’ issue rather than a ‘women’s’ issue and are implementing measures to combat it, such as the Integer project in Trinity, she commented.
Schemes such as Integer and the Athena Swan awards, given to universities in recognition of their efforts to advance gender equality and recently awarded to Trinity, are signs of progress, she said, however, “simply launching initiatives… will not be sufficient and is not evidence that all the issues have been resolved.” She added that: “The existence of so many initiatives proves there is a huge and complex problem requiring multiple measures and initiatives on an ongoing basis.”