University of Limerick Leads the Way on Gender Equality
University of Limerick has long been a leader on gender equality among Irish higher education institutions, with the highest percentage of female professors at 33%, and as one of the first two universities in Ireland to be granted the Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) Bronze award in 2015 for advancing gender equality. Since then, five individual departments at UL have also received the Athena SWAN award.
Gender equality is represented by senior leadership at UL, with eight out of its twelve Executive Committee members being female; having a female Chancellor for the second time in its history, Mary Harney (the first being Miriam Hederman O’Brien, who was appointed in 1998); and both of UL’s two Vice Presidents being women, Professor Kerstin Mey, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Dr. Mary Shire, Vice President of Research. Further, 50% of UL’s Faculty Deans, 41% of the Heads of Department, and 53% of UL’s Assistant Deans are women. 60% of UL’s Governing Authority sub committees are chaired by women.
In 2017, UL President Dr. Des Fitzgerald appointed a Special Advisor on Gender and Equality. Research grants totaling almost €1 million have been provided to support academic staff in re-establishing their independent research careers after returning from extended family leave, minimizing the impact of extended leave on research.
Dr. Fitzgerald said, “A lot has been achieved but there is a way to go yet.” ♦ Maggie Holland