Athena Swan - Overview

TU Dublin is proud to hold an Athena SWAN Bronze Award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and for bringing about organisational and cultural change within the Institute. Work is ongoing to implement our comprehensive Action Plan to embed equality through all of the Institute's policies and procedures and to drive meaningful change across TU Dublin. 

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There is growing recognition that sustainable societies and economies need equal participation of men and women in order to develop and thrive. This is encapsulated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which recognise gender equality as “not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world”.  Importantly, the SDGs state that women must have equal opportunity for full and effective participation in leadership roles across the public, private, and political spheres. ‌

Figures published by the Higher Education Authority highlight gender inequality as an issue for higher education in Ireland. 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. 

The Athena SWAN Charter was originally developed in the UK in 2005 by Advance HE 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. ‌

Irish Higher Education Institutions can make an Institutional application to Advance HE 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 TU Dublin, 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 the Athena SWAN 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 Advance HE.

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.

Links:

More information on the Athena SWAN Charter

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

TU Dublin is proud to hold an Athena SWAN Bronze Award in recognition of its commitment to advancing gender equality. The University has undertaken a significant programme of work to raise gender awareness across TU Dublin and to help create equal opportunities for career advancement. Some highlights include:

  • Appointing a Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
  • Establishing a gender-balanced senior leadership committee as the highest-decision-making committee in TU Dublin.
  • Providing unconscious bias training for all senior leadership, which will be rolled out across the Institute this academic year.
  • Commissioning an external review of all HR policies and practices to ensure that diversity and inclusion are embedded in all stages of the recruitment, selection and retention process.
  • Enhancing our Leadership programme offerings; The  has been updated to include an equality and diversity dimension; Since 2014, TU Dublin has sponsored 12 women each year to participate in the Aurora Leadership Development Programme for Women in Higher Education.

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

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The Women Leaders in Higher Education (WLHE) Network, formed in 2016 by women academics at TU Dublin who had completed the Aurora Leadership Development programme, aims to support, encourage and advocate for women in career advancement in TU Dublin. The network has grown its membership to over 100 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 (former President, DIT) and Professor Brian O’Neill (DIT Director Research, Enterprise and Innovation Services)  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.

Equality in Science & Technology by Engaged Educational Mentoring (ESTEEM): The Esteem Programme aims to attract and retain female students in engineering and computer science by bringing female students together with professional women mentors from some of the largest multinational companies in Ireland, including Arup, Schneider Electric, Mastercard, SAP and the ESB. The goal is 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.

TU Dublin and Intel Partnership: TU Dublin 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 TU Dublin 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)

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, Head of Staff Development, Staff 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, Head of Staff Development, Staff 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 Paula Kelly, Lecturer, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering, College of Engineering & Built Environment

Dr Mary Kinahan, Lecturer, College of Business

Professor Hugh Byrne, Head of FOCAS Research Institute

Dr Daniela Boehm, Postdoctoral Fellow, Bioplasma Research Group

Ms Tara Kilkenny, Human Resources Information Analyst, Human Resources

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

Mr Kevin Corbett, Administrator, Environmental Science & Health Institute

Ms Eidin Finlay, Executive Assistant to Brian O'Neill

Mr Leslie Whyte, ICT Services

‌If you would like to get involved in the Athena Swan process or give feedback, please email brian.oneill@dit.ie

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