The School of Engineering at University of Limerick has been awarded a Bronze Athena Swan Award in recognition of the positive impact of actions that the School has undertaken to achieve gender equality amongst staff and students in Higher Education. This now brings the number of Athena Swan awards for the Faculty of Science and Engineering to seven, one of which is Ireland’s first ever Athena SWAN Silver award for the UL Department of Physics.
In its submission the School of Engineering highlighted a range of impact driven activities and initiatives, including extensive outreach activity and events to encourage female students to consider studying engineering at undergraduate level. The School has gender balance policies in place for advertising, interview boards, open day and public event representation as well as a range of supports in place for progression and promotion.
The School also developed Engineering Ambassadors in 2018, where current female UL engineering students visit their own second-level schools to talk about their experience studying engineering as girls, providing role models for younger girls and very much on the ‘if she can see it, she can be it’ approach.
Dr Reena Cole, the School of Engineering Athena SWAN champion since 2017, welcomed the announcement, “I am delighted that the School of Engineering has received this Bronze Award recognising what we do to enhance gender equality. Engineering has low numbers of women at all levels, in academia and industry. It starts with low numbers studying engineering programmes, much of which I believe is due to perceptions that engineering is not for girls – but engineering is for all.”
UL now holds a totally of 15 Athena Swan Awards including an Institution Bronze Award, a Silver Department Award and now 13 Bronze Department/School Faculty Awards.
UL President Professor Kerstin Mey said, ‘What is inspiring about the Athena Swan awards process is that it is embedding change in society, in third level education and in UL. Without knowing that they had won a Bronze award, the School of Engineering are involved with the Explore Engineering Inspire: Woman for Engineering event on the 27 April at which the Explore Engineering showcase on the 12 May will be launched, an industry led initiative chaired by Professor Ann Ledwith.’
The objective of the Athena SWAN Ireland 2021 charter framework is to support higher education institutions, academic departments, and professional units in impactful and sustainable gender equality work and to build capacity for evidence-based equality work across the equality grounds enshrined in Irish legislation.