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Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion for students and staff in every area of the Institute’s work. This commitment requires a continuing evaluation of our organisational culture, policies and procedures, and how these relate to the student experience, and to academic fulfilment and career progression of colleagues.

Equality and Diversity 1

Policy - Equality and Diversity

DIT policy aims to promote equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels of the Institute.

Staff Dignity at Work Policy

Human Resources – Equal Opportunities Policy

Student Dignity and Respect Policy

DIT Student Charter

DIT Strategic Plan

Key leadership role: Director - Equality, Diversity and Inclusion


Gender Equality

Gender equality is achieved when women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society. According to European Commission statistics, men still dominate the workplace in Ireland and are the main decision-makers in business and politics, while women often find themselves lagging behind when it comes to equal opportunities and income. 

Figures published by the Higher Education Authority highlight gender inequality as an issue for higher education. Across Irish universities, only 19% of professors are women and in Institutes of Technology, women make up 45% of academic staff but just 29% of senior academic staff. In a major national initiative supported by the Higher Education Authority, the Athena SWAN Charter was launched in Ireland in early 2015 to help combat this under-representation. DIT signed up to the principles of the Charter in 2015 and made a commitment to making an Institutional application for an Athena Swan Bronze Award.


The Athena SWAN Charter was originally developed in the UK by the Equality Challenge Unit in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employed in higher education and research. The charter has since expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

Taking part in the Athena SWAN Charter is a holistic and developmental process, where targeted actions are undertaken to change systemic inequality and impact can be measured over time. While good practice and impact are recognised through the conferral of awards (Bronze, Silver and Gold), the Charter acts as a framework through which institutions can effect cultural change through their engagement and active commitment to its principles.

Irish Higher Education Institutions can make an Institutional application to the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) to recognise their commitment to change and their plans to change systemic inequality. If successful, they will be awarded an Institutional Bronze Award, which must be renewed every three years. If significant improvements are made, they may apply for a Silver and ultimately a Gold Award.

Departmental applications can be submitted for approval once the Institutional Bronze is awarded. Within DIT the Departmental applications are likely to be at School level. An application comprises a thorough evaluation of the gender balance within an organisation and an evaluation of the policies in place to support equal opportunities. The first stage of this process evaluates STEM areas principally. An Action Plan to mitigate any inequality identified through the self-evaluation process forms part of the application which is reviewed by a panel of HEI experts in a review process managed by the ECU.  

The Athena SWAN bronze, silver and gold awards testify to institutions’ and departments’ success in advancing the following goals:

  • working towards increasing the proportion of women employed in higher education institutions;
  • improving the representation of women on committees;
  • enhancing the transition from postdoctoral researcher to first academic post;
  • improving working practices to support career progression;
  • supporting women’s networking across higher education institutions.

The Athena SWAN Charter is based on ten key principles, which all institutions who sign up to the charter commit to adopting within their policies, practices and culture.


More information on the Athena SWAN Charter

More information on the Higher Education Authority’s review of gender equality in Irish Higher Education

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DIT is fully committed to providing equal opportunities across all areas of the Institute, which includes signing up to the Athena SWAN Charter and committing to its core objectives.

Preparing our application for Athena SWAN has enabled us to look closely at our organisational culture, policies and procedures and has highlighted areas we need to address in order to achieve the level of gender equality and diversity we aspire to. DIT prides itself on being a fully inclusive organisation, striving to create a friendly, collaborative and trusting community where diversity is valued, individuals are treated with respect and encouraged to develop their potential and make their contribution. We have committed in our Strategic Plan 2016-18 to implement the changes in culture, processes and structure to embed gender balance and equality of opportunity for all throughout the organisation.

‌We are keenly aware that there is much work to be done. Advancing gender equality demands not only long-term dedication, but also action from all levels of the organisation and, in particular, active leadership from those at the top. Meeting the standards required by the Athena SWAN Charter and seeking accreditation as a public statement of our commitment is a major step towards achieving our goal to be a gender balanced, inclusive 21st century workplace, with 'people at its heart', an Institution that nurtures, supports and empowers all colleagues and learners.

Professor Brian Norton

President, DIT

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‌In 2015, a DIT self-assessment team (SAT) was established by the President with Professor Brian O’Neill as Chair. In November 2016, DIT submitted its first Institutional Athena Swan application, which was not successful. A second application is currently being prepared and the SAT is being supported by a new steering group and a number of working groups. If you would like to get involved, email

In preparation for applying for the Athena Swan Bronze Award, DIT has undertaken a significant programme of work to raise gender awareness across the Institute and to help create equal opportunities for career advancement. Some highlights include:

  • Review and gender audit of our current practices, policies and culture.
  • Unconscious bias training developed and delivered to the Senior Leadership Team in 2017 and will soon be delivered to all members of recruitment and selection boards in DIT.
  • Leadership Development programme has been updated to include an equality and diversity dimension to support staff to develop the competencies required for leadership roles.
  • Since 2014, DIT has sponsored 12 women each year to participate in the Aurora Leadership Development Programme for Women in Higher Education.
  • Training for managers and staff to ensure performance management and development reviews are objective, supportive and encouraging.
  • Licence to Interview training for all members of selection panels now includes training on equality, diversity and unconscious bias in selection decisions.
  • An external equality review of the DIT Human Resources policies and practices has been conducted to ensure good practice in recruitment and selection.

For more information on the Athena SWAN process in DIT, check out our Athena SWAN eZine: 

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The Women Leaders in Higher Education (WLHE) Network was formed in 2016 by women academics at DIT who had completed the Aurora Leadership Development programme. The network has since grown its membership to over 80 women from across the Institute. The network holds two events annually committed to creating awareness of the issues influencing women’s career progression in the higher education sector. The WLHE network also provides informal networking and mentoring opportunities for women from across DIT academic, professional services and research functions. More here.

Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) Programme: Professor Brian Norton (President, DIT) and Professor Brian O’Neill (DIT Director Research, Enterprise and Innovation Services) recently attended a Leader’s Workshop offered by Men Advocating Real Change (MARC). Its primary purpose is to support and inspire men in leadership positions seeking to drive meaningful change in their organisations. Participants can sharpen awareness of inequalities, unconscious biases, and privilege, and develop and hone skills to drive change.

Mentoring Programme for Women Engineers – Equality in Science & Technology by Engaged Engineering Mentoring (ESTEEM): DIT College of Engineering and Built Environment has developed a Mentorship Programme to attract and retain female students in engineering. The ESTEEM Mentorship Programme aims to provide female students with role models who can offer guidance about career opportunities in engineering, provide support and tools for navigating this male-dominated industry, and entice more young women into the field. More here.

DIT and Intel Partnership: DIT and Intel Ireland signed a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2017 to establish a strategic partnership to undertake a varied programme of activity in a number of key areas of mutual interest. The programme includes projects aimed at developing and encouraging future talent and increasing the representation of women in STEM professions. More here.

Coding Course for Female Students: Code First:Girls, an award winning UK-based organisation that aims to reduce the gender gap in technology, partners with DIT to offer coding courses to female students. During the eight week course, which is offered twice per year, the participants learn the basics of CSS and HTML, using these technical skills to build their own website from scratch. More here.

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Steering Group

Professor Brian Norton (Chair), President

Professor Brian O’Neill, Director of Research, Enterprise & Innovation Services

Ms Jean Cahill, Head of Enterprise & Research Development

Ms Mary Malone, Head of Human Resources, Human Resources

Dr Ashley O’Donoghue, Staff Development Manager, Staff Learning & Development

Ms Melda Slattery, Head of Public Affairs, President’s Office              

Ms Margaret Whelan, Head of Strategic Services

Professor Gerald Farrell, Director and Dean, College of Engineering & Built Environment  

Professor Mick Devereux, Director and Dean, College of Sciences & Health

Ms Orna Hanly, Head of Dublin School of Architecture, College of Engineering and Built Environment


Self-Assessment Team

Professor Brian O’Neill (Chair), Director of Research, Enterprise & Innovation Services

Ms Jean Cahill, Head of Enterprise & Research Development

Mr Paul Butler, Head of Employee Relations, Human Resources

Dr Ashley O’Donoghue, Staff Development Manager, Staff Learning & Development

Ms Melda Slattery, Head of Public Affairs, President’s Office              

Ms Claire Connell, Communications Specialist, President’s Office

Professor Gerald Farrell, Director and Dean, College of Engineering & Built Environment  

Professor Mick Devereux, Director and Dean, College of Sciences & Health

Dr Julie Dunne, Assistant Head of School, School of Food Science & Environmental Health, College   of Sciences & Health

Ms Orna Hanly, Head of Dublin School of Architecture, College of Engineering and Built Environment

Ms Paula Kelly, Lecturer, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering, College of Engineering & Built Environment

Professor Hugh Byrne, Head of FOCAS Research Institute

Dr Daniella Boehm, Postdoctoral Fellow, Bioplasma Research Group

Ms Tara Kilkenny, Human Resources Information Analyst, Human Resources

Ayesha O’Reilly, Data Reporting Officer, Strategic Services Development

HowtogetInvolved - 380x251If you would like to get involved in the Athena Swan process or give feedback, please email

Staff Survey: In early 2018, DIT will carry out a new staff survey and student focus groups. Through the survey, we would like to hear from all members of staff about their own experiences and views regarding gender equality at DIT. More information coming soon.