As we commence the 2015/16 academic year I would like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to a very important achievement here at UL. On the 30 July 2015 the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) announced that the University of Limerick was one of the first Irish Institutions to be awarded the prestigious Athena Swan Bronze Institution Award. The Equality Challenge Unit received 6 Institutional applications from Irish Universities in April this year with UL and TCD being the only two institutions to be successful.
Launched in 2005 the Athena SWAN (AS) Charter is an academically led initiative that aims to effect cultural and systemic change in higher education institutions to support gender-equality and the progression of women (and men where appropriate) in STEMM disciplines. The Charter recognises higher education institutions, academic departments, and research institutes that put in place initiatives to address gender inequality, including initiatives aimed at changing culture and attitudes. In support of this process our new strategic plan (2015–2019), due for publication this month, explicitly commits the institution to the AS process.
I am delighted that UL has been awarded this recognition of gender equality. I would personally like to thank all members of the three AS committees for their involvement in compiling the AS submission. In addition I would like to thank the Statistical Consulting Unit under Dr Jean Saunders, and Dermot Cleary, Institutional Research Officer for their support in compiling the detailed statistical data required for the submission, Grainne O’Donovan technical writer, and Marie Connolly who project managed the AS submission.
Going forward the AS Award will ensure that UL has in place an effective institutional strategy for staff, including the development of progressive policies, procedures and initiatives. Our institutional strategies should lead to higher numbers of female students in STEMM disciplines, higher levels of female applicants for positions and promotions, enhanced job satisfaction and a better work environment. Our submission includes many challenging actions that focus on creating a culture that is conducive to gender equality and I am personally committed to driving the Athena SWAN agenda and ensuring that the required resources are made available to deliver on the commitments set out in our action plan.
I would like to wish the Department of Life Sciences and the Department of Mathematics & Statistics the very best of luck with their departmental submissions due on the 30 September 2015. Other departments are hoping to submit in 2016.
Professor Don Barry
University of Limerick