MacGill Summer School director pledges to 'do all that we can' to tackle gender imbalance

Organisers are working to add two new sessions to the programme, including one on the Eighth Amendment referendum

MacGill Summer School director pledges to 'do all that we can' to tackle gender imbalance

Joe Mulholland. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Organisers of the MacGill Summer School have pledged to work to 'redress the imbalance' in gender representation at this year's event.

They say they will add two new events to the programme as they work to tackle the issue.

It comes amid criticism of the annual event over the small number of women due to participate this year compared to men.

Of 56 speakers listed to talk at this year's event - which is due to get under way in Glenties, Co Donegal on July 22nd - only 12 of them are women.

The co-leaders of the Social Democrats earlier suggested they could withdraw from their panels at the event due to the gender balance.

Catherine Murphy argued: "I cannot in good conscience take part in an event that has so blatantly disregarded the importance of equal female participation."

In a statement this evening, MacGill Summer School Director Joe Mulholland, said they 'very much regret' the under-representation of women. 

He observed: "We have fallen short of the very high standards for which MacGill has become known and which has led to audience growth year on year.

"Without question, women are under-represented numerically on our panels notwithstanding the strengths and high calibre of those women who accepted our invitation to contribute."

He added: "We are determined, in the short period remaining before MacGill 2018 commences, to do all that we can to redress this imbalance."

Mr Mulholland said that two new sessions will be included in the programme - one on the recent Eighth Amendment referendum, and another on why public forums in Ireland have "not embraced effectively gender balancing".

He also called for help from audiences "and particularly women" to participate in the debates in Glenties.