20 Jul 2015   |   News

Former Research Commissioner to head gender equality review

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn to investigate why male academics outnumber females in senior higher education posts in Ireland

Former EU Research Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn is to chair a national review of gender equality in higher education in Ireland.

She will lead a five-strong panel to investigate gender discrimination at third-level amid wider concerns over gender imbalance in senior academic posts.

Figures published by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in December highlighted the extent of gender inequality in Ireland’s higher education sector. Across Irish universities, only 19 per cent of professors are women – a number which shows no increasing. In institutions of technology, women make up 45 per cent of academic staff but just 29 per cent of senior academic staff. In subjects such as physical science, mathematics, ICT and engineering the gender balance drops even further.

HEA chief executive Tom Boland, said, “The review will take as its starting-point an analysis of the current position in higher education in Ireland in respect of gender-equality, examining this across all grades of staff (including administrative staff), and it will examine the reasons for continuing gender inequality among staff across the sector.”

Also on the panel are Pat O’Connor, an expert in gender equality at University of Limerick; Helen Peterson, associate professor in sociology at Uppsala University in Sweden; Ryan Shanks, head of strategy practice at management consultants Accenture Ireland; and Paul Walton, professor of chemistry at the University of York.

The review will include the issuing of a self-evaluation questionnaire to institutions in November-December, and visits to universities next Spring. The final report is due to be published in May-June 2016.

Geoghegan-Quinn served as a Commissioner from 2009 to 2015. She became the first female minister in the history of the Irish state in 1979.

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