Centre of Excellence for Gender Equality


The under-representation of women among staff in higher education, particularly at senior levels, is an intractable problem internationally. In 2015, in Ireland 81% of professorial positions were held by men and, while women represented 62% of non-academic staff, 72% of the highest paid non-academic staff were male. While there are currently 2 female presidents of Institutes of Technology, there has never been a female university president in the Republic of Ireland since the establishment of the first university in 1592.

In this context the HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions was published in 2016. Since then the Athena Swan Charter has been extended to Ireland implementing the recommendations of the Report of the Expert Group.

In the same year, the HEA published the first Institutional Staff Profiles by Gender. The profiles have been compiled and published every year since. These publications are available to download from the HEA website

In 2017, the Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. established the Gender Equality Taskforce to identify significant measures, drawing on the work of the HEA Expert Group, that could accelerate progress in achieving gender equality in Irish HEIs. This Taskforce developed the Gender Action Plan 2018-2020 which built on the report of the Expert Group and recommended a number of initiatives to progress organisation and cultural change.

In 2019, the Centre for Excellence in Gender Equality was established in the HEA. The Centre’s objective is to ensure sustainable acceleration towards gender equality through centralised support for HEIs and dissemination of good practice.  The Centre is currently running the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative, a national call launched on 21 June 2019. Read more here