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DIT receives Athena SWAN award for gender equality

Posted: 13 November, 2018

Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) was presented with the Athena SWAN Bronze Award at a special ceremony held in Dublin today. The award recognises commitment to advancing gender equality among women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and bringing about organisational and cultural change.

Athena SWAN - Awards Ceremony

Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD commended DIT and the other awardees on their tremendous efforts to drive real change in the higher education sector.

The ceremony was opened by Dr Ruth Gilligan, Associate Director of Equality Charters at Advance HE, the organisation administering the Athena SWAN programme, and featured a number of expert speakers exploring themes such as positive action and breaking bias.

Welcoming the award, the President of DIT Professor Brian Norton emphasized that the Athena SWAN objectives and framework provide a roadmap for the organisation. “Enabling our students, in all of their diversity, to realize their full potential is the raison d’être of DIT. Our employment practices need to be consistent with that objective and gender equality is an essential ingredient. All colleagues, irrespective of their gender, must be totally confident that DIT will prepare, support and enable them to reach their goals, just as they support our students. This Award is an important milestone as we prepare to join with our partners in ITB and ITT to establish Ireland’s first Technological University in January 2019.”

Professor Norton said that in preparing its application for the Award, a staff survey on gender equality in DIT had identified areas that are now part of a comprehensive action plan to drive change. “A key action was the appointment of a Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and I am delighted that Professor Yvonne Galligan has joined us in that capacity.  Her research and extensive contribution in this area will be a considerable asset in ensuring that we continue to embed equality through all of our policies and procedures.”

Other key actions already taken include:

  • Establishing a gender-balanced senior leadership committee as the highest-decision-making committee in DIT.
  • Providing unconscious bias training for all senior leadership, which will be rolled out across the Institute this academic year.
  • Reviewing all HR policies to ensure that diversity and inclusion are embedded in all stages of the recruitment, selection and retention process.

In addition to these organisational changes, a number of staff and student initiatives also aim to advance gender equality. For example, the Esteem Mentorship Programme aims to attract and retain female students in engineering and computer science by bringing them together with professional mentors from leading multinational tech and engineering companies in Ireland. The Women Leaders in Higher Education Network brings together over 100 women in DIT with the goal of supporting, encouraging and advocating for women in career advancement.

Professor Brian O’Neill, Director of Research, Enterprise and Innovation at DIT, who chaired the DIT Athena SWAN Committee, welcomed the announcement of the award, “We are delighted that our commitment to gender equality in DIT has been recognised through this Athena SWAN Bronze award. DIT aims to support all staff and students to achieve their full potential regardless of gender. This award recognises the strides we have already made towards improving gender equality and energises us to continue implementing the comprehensive action plan. I am delighted that Professor Galligan has now joined us and I look forward to working with her to bring about meaningful change in the future.”

Professor Yvonne Galligan, Director of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at DIT said: “I am delighted to be joining DIT at this time of change. It is an opportunity to shape a new kind of university in Ireland, and one that integrates the highest standards of gender equality across all its activities. Indeed, gender diversity is paramount to delivering excellence in teaching, research and contribution to society. This Athena SWAN award gives timely recognition to the amazing work of the dedicated Self Assessment Team led by Professor Brian O’Neill. It is a tribute to the fantastic bottom-up initiatives such as the ESTeEM mentoring programme and Women Leaders in Higher Education Network. The award also publicly recognises the leadership of President Brian Norton, who has been to the fore in implementing the Higher Education Authority recommendation to appoint a Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion through a publicly advertised process. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to deliver on the exciting ambition contained in the DIT Athena SWAN action plan.”

AthenaSWAN - Award Ceremony 2


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