Female staff face “glass ceiling” for promotions

By Kate Palmer

The Gender and Promotions Report reveals that women continue to be underrepresented in College and struggle to be promoted.

Published by the Equality Office, the report surveyed female staff members, who comprise 53 percent of all Trinity’s employees.

From 2006 to 2007, 18 percent of female staff occupied a Head of School position, compared to 82 percent of men. Only 20 percent of Fellows of the College are women. None of the College Deans are female.

The Equality Office concluded, “The survey indicates women are significantly underrepresented in College senior positions and decision-making positions, with the consequent loss of women’s input into the future development of the College”.

The Equality Office claim there is a “marked labour segregation in the distribution of staff by gender in different areas and types of employment in College, in particular in administrative and other support grades”.

Despite this, the general profile of staff and students in College has been steadily evolving. Half the College staff is currently female, as is almost two thirds of the student population.

Speaking to Trinity News, Senator Ivana Bacik agreed that there is a “glass ceiling” which female academics face during their career. Bacik commented, “I would agree with the report’s findings on barriers and obstacles facing women. It’s clear from the report that positive efforts will need to be made.”

The report also issued a number of recommendations for implementation by College. These were taken from a study by Professor Barbara Wright, Women Academics and Promotion (2002).

Out of a total of 12 recommendations, seven have been either fully or partially implemented.

In response to the recommendations, Bacik says: “I do welcome them, especially the concept of setting targets. But I think more follow-up work will need to be done to specify what those targets will be, and to ensure the allocation of responsibility to individual College officers and committees.”

Among the recommendations that have been carried out is an extension of the College crèche opening hours from 8:00 to 18:00 during the academic year. A recruitment monitoring program has also been set in place, along with a revision of maternity procedures by which staff now keep State maternity benefit in addition to a “top-up” by the College

Two pilot mentoring schemes are currently being rolled out as part of the recommendations. The Early Career Mentoring Initiative is a new support service aimed at new and recently appointed academics in their first three years of service. A Momentum Programme was also set up, which the College Communications Office say is, “designed to support academics, more established in their careers, who wish to enhance their academic potential through mentoring.”

A number of recommendations have yet to be implemented. It was stated in the 2009 report that the day nursery should include school vacations and after-school care in its remit, although the Equality Office were awaiting response from the day nursery. In addition, a recommendation for the Research Committee to finalise its policy on sabbaticals has not yet resulted in a formalised policy.

In response College commented that “All recommendations contained in earlier reports are to be considered in the context of the current employment framework which imposes limitations on promotions and recruitment.”