Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor opened the 10th European Conference on Gender Equality in Higher Education this morning. It is being held in Trinity, and is the first time that the biennial conference has been held in Ireland.
The three day event will host 400 delegates from Europe, to discuss the theme of “Gender in academic research: Countering and emerging challenges to equality”. Director of the Trinity Centre of Gender Equality and Leadership, Professor Eileen Drew, has worked as the National Coordinator for the conference.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor, in her opening address noted the importance of the conference and called it “a major international meeting place of higher education researchers and policy makers”. She recognised that this was a chance to learn from “the experiences of colleagues in other countries, to assist us in addressing the challenges that we all face”.
Professor Drew also noted the importance of the conference in the light of today’s CAO offers and said: “It is important to remind ourselves that, as in previous years, girls continue to outperform boys in the vast majority of Leaving Certificate subjects.”
However, she went on to point out that despite this, “overall only 24% of our professors are female”. She called on third level institutions to “acknowledge the extent of gender inequality in their organisations and take ownership for implementing change. They must ensure that any barriers to gender equality are removed for good”.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor also noted the importance of the Gender Equality Taskforce, which was established last year. She announced that she would publish their report, delivering a three year action plan next month. She hoped that “this action plan will provide a much needed impetus to accelerate gender equality in our higher education sector”.
Today’s keynote speaker, Professor Anna Wahl, President of KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, will deliever a speech on “Gender mainstreaming in practice: Organising for change and raising gender awareness”.
The conference also saw Trinity’s Vice Provost, Professor Chris Morash speak at today’s conference. He outlined College’s work to “create an inclusive college community in which women and men participate at all levels and where all are recognised for their contribution to the university”.
The conference will discuss topics such as staff mentoring programmes, gender in teaching and learning, bias free professorial appointments, and improving research and innovation through gender diversity. It will also host plenary discussions from leading experts in the field.