Athena Swan Silver Award for UL’s Department of Chemical Sciences
Associate Professor Teresa Curtin, Head of Department Professor JJ Leahy and Chief Technical Officer Maria Munroe, pictured in our B3 laboratory.
Tuesday, 23 April 2024


The Department of Chemical Sciences at University of Limerick has been recognised with an Athena Swan Silver Award its work on gender equality.

The Department, which is focused on the areas of chemical, biochemical, pharmaceutical and environmental science and engineering, is based in UL’s Faculty of Science and Engineering.

University of Limerick was the first institution in Ireland to receive the prestigious Athena Swan Silver Award in April 2023. This latest accomplishment marks the fourth Silver School/Department Award for UL alongside its own silver accolade.

The University continues to be the leader in embedding gender equality.

The Athena Swan Ireland charter is part of a global framework used to support and transform gender equality and to build capacity for evidenced-based equality work across the equality grounds enshrined in legislation within higher education and research and has the support of the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

All of Ireland’s universities and institutes of technology and several colleges participate in Athena Swan Ireland.

In 2015, UL was one of the first institutions in Ireland to achieve an Athena Swan Bronze Institution Award and established the office of Human Rights and Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (HREDI) in 2021.

The silver award is granted in recognition of the positive impact of actions that a department or institute has undertaken to achieve gender equality amongst staff and students in Higher Education.

In the assessment document the Department’s initiatives in outreach, specifically targeting disadvantaged students, were especially praised.

Maria Munroe, Chief Technical Officer in the Department who worked on the submission document said: “We are delighted and very proud to have achieved a Silver Department Athena Swan award for Chemical Sciences recognising our department’s ongoing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and to delivering impactful measurable outcomes on our Bronze action plan.

“The increase in females in leadership roles in the academic pipeline represented success for us against two key priority areas and was highly commended by the review panel. Setting up a dedicated cost centre from our annual budget for Athena Swan activities was also commended, these funds have helped us expand outreach activities to reach more disadvantaged students and raise awareness on gender and diversity.”

Associate Professor Teresa Curtin, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemical Sciences and Assistant Dean of Learning, Teaching and Assessment in the Faculty of Science and Engineering added: “We would particularly like to acknowledge the leadership and support shown by Heads of Department, Professor Tewfik Soulimane, outgoing, and Professor JJ Leahy, current, throughout the application process and beyond, particularly in relation to their commitment and support in resourcing the action plans allowing us to achieve over 90% of our Bronze actions and to start progress on our Silver actions.

“We remain fully committed to ensuring that EDI continues to be a key priority and is consistently embedded into the Department’s day-to-day activities.”

A total of 12 awards were conferred on Irish HEIs in the latest assessment round for Athena Swan Ireland.