Improve gender balance in Irish HE or face fines, says review

Published yesterday (28th June) in the Times Higher, Jack Grove discusses proposed new reforms designed to improve gender equality at Irish Universities.

‘As part of plans put forward by an expert group commissioned by the Republic of Ireland’s Higher Education Authority, all higher education institutions would face financial penalties if they did not meet targets on gender equality agreed with the funding body. Institutions would also be unable to apply for research funding if they failed to achieve at least a Silver Athena SWAN award within seven years, the group has recommended. Other recommendations from the long-awaited national review of gender equality in Irish higher education, which was published on 27 June, include having mandatory quotas for academic promotion and asking university presidential candidates to demonstrate their experience in advancing gender equality.’

What do you think?  Are reforms needed to speed up the move towards greater gender equality?


Key committees to have 30% women members by 2020

The Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell has announced new targets to promote stronger gender and racial representation on all key decision-making committees.

On gender, our targets for 2020 are to:

  • have at least 30% of either gender in all key University committees and boards, including the University Executive Board (UEB);
  • maintain the current baseline of at least 45% of either gender in the overall University Leadership Group – including UEB, Deans, Assistant Deans, Heads of School and Heads of Function;
  • have a gender-balanced professoriate, with at least 40% of professors of either gender. Current baseline is 30%;
  • reduce the pay gap that exists at senior (professorial and Grade 9) levels. Current baseline is 11% (there is no significant pay gap at other levels currently); and
  • achieve University-wide Athena SWAN Gender Charter Mark Silver level recognition, with all STEM Schools holding awards and all other Schools working towards Gender Equality Charter Mark  recognition.

See the full story to read more.


The Numbers Game

Athene Donald posted a really interesting blog on 9th January about equality, gender divisions and stereotypes:

‘Recently I attended a small, select lunch of diverse academics whom I’d not met before. As it happened there were four women and three men. As it happened there were four vocal women and three rather silent men. It felt quite extraordinary and I found that terribly sad. I was sad that I’d noticed this gender split, sad that it felt so unusual, and sad that we couldn’t just be people but that I was so aware of the way we behaved by gender…………’

Follow Athene’s blog to read more. Do you notice a gender split in meetings? Is this gender split very obvious, or are you noticing it because you are aware of potential divisions?


Cambridge University summit highlights challenges in chasing the still-elusive goals of equal representation and equal pay

On the 8th March 2015 Cambridge University held a summit – Delivering Equality: Women and Success.  During this event they examined the question –  What does gender equality mean for women researchers in the 21st century?







A comprehensive summary of the event by Alice Atkinson-Banasio can be seen here –

‘The theme of gender inequality seems to evoke a certain sense of resistance from both men and women, who argue against “radical feminism” and suggest that women nowadays are empowered to follow whatever career path they choose and succeed on their merits.

The battle, in other words, has been won.

Indeed, as a woman enjoying the successful pursuit of my career of choice, it felt strange to be in a room with some of the most outstanding female researchers in the world to discuss how difficult it still is for a woman to progress in her academic career compared to her male counterparts.’

‘Key takeaways from the 2015 Delivering Equality summit
•The Meaning of Success: Challenging the myth of meritocracy and improving the way we recognise and reward all valued contributions
•Mechanisms to support work and family life balance
•Addressing unconscious bias, particularly in recruitment and promotion’


At the University of Reading we will be holding a conference examining ‘Perspectives on Gender and Fieldwork’ starting at 13:30 on the 29th April.  Look out for the posters across SAGES.  Have you registered to attend?

What impact has Lean In had on women?

In an article posted today on the BBC News website, Gianna Palmer explores the impact of the book ‘Lean In’ –

‘On Thursday,, Sandberg’s non-profit organisation, launched its latest public awareness campaign, Lean In Together, or #LeanInTogether as it’s being known, in partnership with basketball organisations the NBA and WNBA. The campaign is focused on men’s roles in reaching gender equality.

Going global

‘Lean In was published two years ago this month. Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, describes it as “sort of a feminist manifesto”. The original book has sold over 2.25 million copies worldwide. A newer edition, Lean In For Graduates, came out last April.

“The catchphrase of ‘lean in’ – that has gone global,” says Astrid Henry, a professor of gender studies at Grinnell College, Iowa. She describes Sandberg as an enormously successful modern spokesperson for feminism: “Her influence and her visibility at this moment can’t be overestimated.”

Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In has sold more than two million copies worldwide

Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In has sold more than two million copies worldwide










Have you read ‘Lean In?’  What do you think?