The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. The charter has since expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. It was launched in Ireland in 2015 and now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.
The Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, jointly with Lero – the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software, which is headquartered at the University of Limerick, has been awarded an Athena SWAN Department Bronze Award, Expanded Charter including Professional and Support staff.
The submission is available online here.
CSIS-Lero were presented with their Athena SWAN Bronze Departmental award at a ceremony held in UL at which UL President Prof Kerstin Mey said:
“Led by Professor Ita Richardson the CSIS/Lero application was a collaborative application and again unfortunately was unsuccessful first time around but through Ita’s leadership came back stronger than ever. The joint Letter of Endorsement was particularly acknowledged noting the commitment of the Head of Department Prof. Tiziana Margaria and Professor Brian Fitzgerald Lero Director and Ita’s commitment to using the Athena SWAN process to progress CSIS-Lero’s opportunities for making progress on gender equality. A number of good practices were noted setting out commitment across the application, including allocation of a specified budget, appointment of an EDI representative to the Lero Advisory Board and inclusion of early career women on recruitment selection committees. The Panel particularly commended the Self-Assessment Team for putting together an application that included a department and SFI centre, and for their engagement with the PMSS interim process”
This was followed by an on-line ceremony hosted by Advance HE Ireland and attended by Minister Simon Harris.
Gender Equality Actions
Gender Aware presentations have been held for CSIS Final Year Project students and for PhD students at the SFI Centre for Research Training in Foundations of Data Science, within which CSIS members are supervisors.
All recruitment panels, regardless of the level of the position, have at least 30% gender balance.
Lero is involved in the Scratch National Competition run by the Irish Computer Society. The number of female participants is over 40% annually. We ensure that judging panels, consisting of both CSIS-Lero and external personnel, are always gender balanced (at least 40% of each gender).
In recent years, CSIS has made an additional effort to visit mixed-gender or all-female secondary schools, presenting talks that promote computing with an emphasis on contributing to and shaping societal change.
We have ensured that CSIS female students have role models. Current and former students who are recognised for their achievements feature on promotional material and talks. For example, Louise Allen, recipient of UL’s Silver Medal for Academic Achievement, 2018. presented at Graduate Information Evening and features in course promotional slides.
Gender Balance has been achieved for all public facing secondary school events, such as open day, that required undergraduate support for staffing stands and tour guides.
We accommodated local international company, Johnson and Johnson to have a stand at Open Day, promoting their Women in Science, Technology Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design scholarships.
Eirenteering a Centre for Teaching and Learning funded project led by Prof. Tiziana, is developing a portfolio of online introductory content for computing. The programming stream, led by the LM121 Computer Science Course Director, is developed by a female postgraduate student with an emphasis on sample applications in healthcare rather than on games.
LM121 (Computer Science) initiative "Making the Leap: a Pathway to Success" promotes progression whereby 2nd year computer science undergraduate volunteers mentor and support new first year entrants. The gender breakdown in the volunteer cohort was 8 F / 10 M for 2019/20. The volunteers are eligible to apply for the UL President Volunteer Award.
Lero-CSIS Athena SWAN self-assessment team
Professor Ita Richardson is chair, and Dr Tabea De Wille is vice-chair, of the Lero-CSIS Athena SWAN self-assessment team which consists of ten women and eight men.