Higher education gets gender equality boost as taskforce to review practices
Gender equality in higher education has taken a step forward following the launch of a new government taskforce.
The group will carry out a review of recruitment and promotion policies in the sector, as well as other practices.
The establishment of the Gender Equality Taskforce, launched on Monday by Minister of State Mary Mitchell O'Connor, was welcomed by NUI Galway's vice president for equality and diversity, Professor Anne Scott.
A series of high-profile gender discrimination cases have been taken against the university by female academic staff in recent years.
"This new Gender Equality Taskforce will continue to shape the future approach to gender equality across the sector," said Professor Scott.
She added that it will "support in leading change in terms of recruitment and promotion policy, process and practice, to ensure equality of opportunity is provided to all staff working in Higher Education in Ireland and to all new colleagues entering the sector."
The government taskforce follows the publication in 2016 of a national third level gender review carried out by the Higher Education Authority.
That review found that numerous factors meant that women in the sector faced barriers to progression that were not experienced to the same degree by men.
It found that what it called "radical action" was necessary to combat the problem of gender inequality in Irish Higher Education Institutions.
Minister of State Mary Mitchell O'Connor, who has responsibility for Higher Education, said the taskforce would build on the work of the national review.
She added: "I know there are good practices in our higher education system, but we need to ensure that all institutions learn from these.
"Where improvements are required, they need to be addressed without delay. Having a national action plan with progress monitored on a regular basis will help to drive the change that we need to see.
"It will give us a clear line of sight on all relevant activities across the sector."
Funding of 500,000 euro was set aside in Budget 2018 to support the work of the Taskforce.
Chairwoman of the Irish Research Council, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, said the establishment of the taskforce is a "timely development" as "over the past month alone, the discrimination and challenges faced by women across a range of sectors has been very publicly highlighted, both in Ireland and further afield."