New gender equality taskforce launched for higher education

Funding of €500,000 was provided in Budget 2018

New gender equality taskforce launched for higher education

Mary Mitchell O’Connor at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin where she announced a taskforce to examine Gender Equality in Higher Education Institutes | Image: Leah farrell/

A new gender equality taskforce is to be set up for higher education.

Minister of State Mary Mitchell O’Connor has appointed the taskforce ahead of a three year action plan, in consultation with stakeholders.

The group will also oversee a national systems review of the recruitment and promotion policies and practices currently in place in higher education institutions.

This is with a view to identifying good-practice and highlighting areas that need improvement.

This will feed into the development of actions for the action plan.

Funding of €500,000 was provided in Budget 2018 to support the work of the taskforce.

A regular reporting mechanism will also be put in place to track progress.

The taskforce is to build on work done for the HEA National Review on Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions, which was published in 2016.

That report set out an analysis of the position in relation to gender equality in Irish higher education institutions - and made recommendations to improve the position.

'No lesser ambitions for our daughters'

Commenting on the review, Minister O’Connor said: "I was very concerned that nearly three quarters of respondents to a HEA survey on gender equality indicated that there were issues in relation to transparency in recruitment, promotion and progress in higher education institutions.

"I want these issues thoroughly examined and changes put in place where needed.

"I know there are good practices in our higher education system, but we need to ensure that all institutions learn from these.

"Where improvements are required, they need to be addressed without delay.

The chairperson of the taskforce, Marie O'Connor, added: "Gender equality starts at home - none of us today have lesser ambitions for our daughters than our sons.

"It is important as all students enter education that there are female role models and mentors and this is even more vital in the Higher Education Institutes which are so influential in the development of skills for future careers of young people."

The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) has welcomed the initiative.

IFUT General-Secretary Joan Donegan said she hopes it "will complement and support implementation of the detailed recommendations contained in the earlier Maire Geoghegan-Quinn report on the issue."