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Friday 23 August 2019

Now minister declares war on university gender bias

Mary Mitchell O’Connor. Photo: Mark Condren
Mary Mitchell O’Connor. Photo: Mark Condren
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

Gender inequality and discrimination against women is rampant in our colleges and universities, according to Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor, who has vowed to eliminate the 'men only' hierarchy at the top of third level.

"The first Irish University was set up 424 years ago and since then, no university here has had a female president. That was excusable 400 ago. Perhaps even 300, 200 or 100 years ago. In the 21st century, it's not only not excusable, it's not acceptable in institutions which should be providing a beacon of equality to the rest of society," she writes in today's Sunday Independent.

She says that in 2016, 50pc of lecturer staff in Irish universities were female but only 19pc made professorship. And she says that 81pc of those who reach the top level in Irish universities are men. "And it's not just at the highest academic levels that this inequality is patent. It's also clearly seen in the disciplines that govern and organise many third level colleges," she said.

Tomorrow, the Minister will announce a new Gender Equality Task Force within her department which will outline strategy and good practice needed within institutions to ensure the equality for women when applying for promotion.

"I intend to eradicate the clear under-representation of women at senior level in higher education institutions," Minister O'Connor says.

"Gender inequality shouldn't exist in any area of Irish life. That it should exist in our higher education institutions - and it does - is doubly wrong, because these are the colleges where the best minds gather and which develop national and international thinkers,'' she says.

Sunday Independent

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