Gender-specific academic posts launched to achieve balance in Irish third level

Gender-specific academic posts launched to achieve balance in Irish third level

With women making up just 24% of professors in Irish universities, new gender-specific academic posts are to be launched to achieve diversity at a senior level in the third level sector.

A call for applications to a new ‘Senior Academic Leadership’ initiative has been announced this Friday, which aims to accelerate gender balance among senior positions within Irish higher level institutions.

While women make up more than half of university lecturers here, just 24% are professors, with women making up 45% of lecturers in institutes of technology but only 36% of senior lecturers.

This new initiative, launched by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) will ensure a “swifter gender re-balance” to address this deficit, according to Mary Mitchell O’Connor, minister of state for higher education.

“We know that the excellence of our female academics and their vast contribution to research and education has not yet resulted in an appropriate level of representation of women at the highest levels,” Minister O’Connor said.

New and additional professorial and senior lecturer level three academic posts will now be made available through this initiative, Minister O’Connor added.

The initiative comes following a study by the 2018 Gender Task Force that found it could take up to 20 years to achieve an average of 40% female professors across the sector here if the current rate of recruitment continues.

Aiming to attract applications from within the Irish higher education sector and internationally, the Attorney General has confirmed that the initiative complies with EU and national employment and equality law.

The scheme is aimed at supporting underrepresented groups and female candidates are the priority for this call, a department of education spokesperson confirmed.

However, in exceptional circumstances males candidates in a minority or protected under Irish social legislation may able be approved for a position, he added.

In order to secure additional posts under the initiative announced this Friday, higher education institutions must also show a gender action plan and demonstrate that they are progressing their gender equality objectives and targets.

Further information on the project will be available on the HEA website this Friday afternoon.

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