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Patricia Casey: 'Why professorships plan is so embarrassing for women'

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Cut above: Calum Quinn, Aine Mulvany, Laura Gleeson and Danya Elgahzel, who graduated with degrees in pharmacy and physiotherapy from Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland this week.

Cut above: Calum Quinn, Aine Mulvany, Laura Gleeson and Danya Elgahzel, who graduated with degrees in pharmacy and physiotherapy from Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland this week.

Cut above: Calum Quinn, Aine Mulvany, Laura Gleeson and Danya Elgahzel, who graduated with degrees in pharmacy and physiotherapy from Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland this week.

I recall when I first made the decision to become a professor. It was 1981, a few days after I had passed my membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrist Examination (London). A very eminent professor of psychiatry visited the hospital where I worked in the UK and the lecture that he delivered was so utterly banal and unengaging I realised I could do much better. On that day my dream began and to that end I completed seven years of research, including two with the Medical Research Council Unit for Suicide Prevention in Edinburgh. My research mentors served me well and the result was my appointment to the position of senior lecturer in psychiatry in UCC in 1985.

In 1990/1 I was interviewed for the chair of psychiatry in UCD on the retirement of the late Prof Sean Malone. I was the successful candidate. There were, I think, seven or more applicants and I was the only woman. I faced an interview board of 15 and the closest to a sexist question that I was asked was why I wanted to move from the lovely city of Cork to take up the rigours of a full chair in UCD. I answered I wanted to use my skills to illuminate international research and to represent Ireland in this. I also indicated only a person with power can enable this to happen. I was appointed to this position and I was Ireland's first female professor of psychiatry. One year later I went on maternity leave with the arrival of our second baby.


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