By Niall Murray, Education Correspondent
All but one of the 14 institutes of technology have yet to submit an application for the gender equality benchmark needed by the end of next year to be eligible for public research funding.
Although institutes of technology (ITs) involved in planned mergers to become technological universities (TUs) have a longer timeframe in which to secure the Athena Swan bronze award, Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) has submitted its application this summer.
It is part of the three-college consortium — along with Blanchardstown and Tallaght ITs — approved in July to merge and form a TU, which is likely to be established formally next January. Other than the three Dublin ITs merging next year, seven others are finalising applications to form TUs in the south west (Cork and Kerry ITs), south-east (Carlow and Waterford), and Connacht-Ulster (Galway-Mayo, Sligo and Letterkenny).
The rules on funding eligibility were announced by three public research bodies — Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council, and Health Research Board — at the end of 2016.
A policy announced last month by ITs’ representative body, the Technological Higher Education Association, commits all colleges in the sector to address imbalances in disciplines traditionally dominated by one particular gender, and to establish structures that allow equal opportunity for all to advance their careers.
Two ITs currently have female presidents but none of the seven universities has ever appointed a woman to the role. The seven universities have now achieved the bronze award from the Athena Swan initiative, an international organisation that recognises work in third-level colleges on the topic.
By the end of 2023, plans on which bronze awards are based must have been progressed and targets be met sufficiently to merit a silver award for colleges to remain eligible for research funding.