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Irish universities tackle gender diversity in STEM roles

athena swan charter
athena swan charter

The number of women in senior higher education STEM posts in Ireland is being boosted. This has come about by an award scheme that recognises how institutions are improving gender equality.

Higher education institutions in Ireland have signed up to the Athena SWAN Charter. However its intention is to boost the number of women in senior academic and research roles across STEM subjects.

The UK’s Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) runs the Athena SWAN Charter. Likewise it aims to advance gender equality in Irish universities where only 19% of professors are women.

In Institutes of Technology women represent 45% of academic staff but make up just 29% of senior posts. In physical science, mathematics, ICT and engineering the gender balance drops further.

Only 19% of professors are women in Irish universities

Six principles of the Athena SWAN Charter

The Athena SWAN Charter has six principles. There are seven universities, 14 institutes of technology and the Royal College of Surgeons that are adopting these principles. This earns Bronze, Silver and Gold awards by continuously improving gender equality.

“Universities are losing out on female talent and this reflects how the STEM sector generally must remove barriers to attract women for the benefit of the wider economy,” says ECU equality charters adviser Sarah Fink.

An ECU report on the impact of the Athena SWAN Charter in the UK reveals that 90% of institutions surveyed agree the scheme has impacted positively on gender issues.

Tom Boland, Chief Executive at Ireland’s Higher Education Authority, said he wants to see “real and substantial progress in addressing gender imbalance”.

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