Minister Harris publishes review of Gender Equality in Higher Education
By Maura O'Shea
Posted: 12 December, 2022
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, has today (November 12th) launched the Higher Education Authority’s Second National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education.
The Review was launched on March 15th and was carried out by a six-person Expert Group, chaired by Niamh O’Donoghue, former Secretary General of the Department of Social Protection, and consisted of national and international members with expertise and experience in the area of gender equality.
The review makes a number of recommendations including the need for each Higher Education Institution to have a Gender Equality Action Plan that is published on the HEI website, and a strategy should be developed under the aegis of ‘Funding the Future’ to address precarity of employment.
Minister Harris said: “I want to thank the Expert Group and the HEA for their work in completing this review. The recommendations in the report build on those of previous national policy documents and add further nuance to the understanding of gender equality in Irish higher education.
“As part of my brief, it is essential that I ensure that everyone in our society, no matter their gender or background, has the same access to higher education, and that they are treated equally in all respects across the sector.
“This review is yet another vital step on the road to creating a truly equal higher education system, which will in turn have a lasting impact on society as a whole.”
Chair of the Expert Group Niamh O’Donoghue said: “The contribution of Higher Education in Ireland is immense both in terms of opening minds to new ideas, informing and educating for the future, as well as building and reinforcing the values that shape civic society. The importance of the Higher Education Institutions as exemplars of the type of society we seek to build cannot be understated.
“There has been significant progress in relation to gender equality on several levels since the HEA review of 2016 and the Gender Equality Taskforce action plan of 2018. This progress is owed to engagement by many of the stakeholders, investment by the Government and by individual institutions, and huge work by many individuals throughout the system. Yet, despite this there is much more work to be done.
“The Group recognises that there is a real opportunity in Ireland for Higher Education Institutions to make gender equality a reality thereby creating a ripple effect through all society. The progress already made gives us real confidence that there is an appetite and a willingness to embrace this agenda.”
HEA CEO Dr Alan Wall said: “This report consolidates the work that began in 2016 and sets a clear pathway to gender equality in Irish higher education. The HEA looks forward to working with institutions to ensure that Ireland stays at the cutting edge of the European Research Area’s priority action to promote gender equality and foster inclusiveness in the research and innovation system across Europe.”
Notes to the Editor:
The Expert Group consulted with key higher education stakeholders including senior leaders in Higher Education Institutions, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, funders and relevant state agencies. The HEA conducted an online consultation in April 2022, which was open to all staff in higher education in Ireland.
Through the consultation process with key stakeholders, and the feedback from an online consultation and written submissions, the Expert Group has identified a number of overarching thematic areas in relation to the advancement of gender equality for all staff in Irish higher education, both academic and professional, management and support staff.
Since the first HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions in 2016, two issues have emerged as key to the advancement of gender equality in higher education: the need to take an intersectional approach when addressing gender inequality; and the impact of precarious employment on career development.
Each of the Expert Group’s high level recommendations to higher education institutions are accompanied by a set of indicators. The HEA will monitor progress against these indicators on an annual basis.
Read the report here: