Athena Swan - Overview
TU Dublin is proud to hold an Athena SWAN Bronze Award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and for bringing about organisational and cultural change.
About Athena SWAN
There is growing recognition that sustainable societies and economies need equal participation of men and women in order to develop and thrive. This is encapsulated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which recognise gender equality as “not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world”.
Importantly, the SDGs state that women must have equal opportunity for full and effective participation in leadership roles across the public, private, and political spheres. Figures published by the Higher Education Authority highlight gender inequality as an issue for higher education in Ireland. Across Irish universities, only 26% of professors are women and, while women represent 64% of non-academic staff, they represent only 39% of the highest paid non-academic staff. In a major national initiative supported by the Higher Education Authority, the Athena SWAN Charter was launched in Ireland in early 2015 to help combat this under-representation.
The Athena SWAN Charter was originally developed in the UK in 2005 by Advance HE to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employed 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. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.
Irish Higher Education Institutions can make an Institutional application to Advance HE to recognise their commitment to change and their plans to change systemic inequality. If successful, they will be awarded an Institutional Bronze Award, which must be renewed every four years. If significant improvements are made, they may apply for a Silver and ultimately a Gold Award.
Departmental applications can be submitted for approval once the Institutional Bronze is awarded. Within TU Dublin, the Departmental applications are likely to be at School level. An application comprises a thorough evaluation of the gender balance within an organisation and an evaluation of the policies in place to support equal opportunities.
An Action Plan to mitigate any inequality identified through the self-evaluation process forms part of the application which is reviewed by a panel of HEI experts in a review process managed by Advance HE.
The Athena SWAN bronze, silver and gold awards testify to institutions’ and departments’ success in advancing toward and achieving:
- their gender equality objectives
- equality legislation requirements, as well as the requirements and expectations of some funders and research councils
- identification of areas for positive action as well as recognising and sharing good practices
- the promotion of inclusive working practices that can increase retention of valued academics and professional and support staff, demonstrating the institution’s commitment to an equitable working environment.
The Athena SWAN Charter is based on ten key principles , which all institutions who sign up to the charter commit to adopting within their policies, practices and culture.
More information on Athena SWAN Ireland
More information on the Higher Education Authority’s review of gender equality in Irish Higher Education
Athena SWAN Focus Groups
The Expression of Interest for the Athena SWAN focus groups is now open. Focus groups will be asynchronous text-based groups.
Focus Group Areas of Discussion:
- Work environment
- Career advancement
- Policies and initiatives that support equality of opportunity and inclusion
- Impact of COVID 19 on staff workload and wellbeing
Equality and Inclusion Survey
The University’s first Staff Equality and Inclusion Survey has now closed. Initial headline items will be included in issue 3 of the Athena SWAN ezine and we will share the results in May 2021.
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TU Dublin is proud to hold an Athena SWAN Bronze Award in recognition of its commitment to advancing gender equality. The University has undertaken a significant programme of work to raise gender awareness across TU Dublin and to help create equal opportunities for career advancement. Some highlights include:
- Appointing a Director of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion.
- Establishing a gender-balanced senior leadership committee as the highest-decision-making committee in TU Dublin.
- Providing unconscious bias training for all senior leadership, which will be rolled out across the Institute this academic year.
- Commissioning an external review of all HR policies and practices to ensure that diversity and inclusion are embedded in all stages of the recruitment, selection, and retention process.
- Enhancing our Leadership programme offerings; This has been updated to include an equality and diversity dimension; Since 2014, TU Dublin has sponsored 12 women each year to participate in the Aurora Leadership Development Programme for Women in Higher Education.
We are currently compiling an application and action plan for an Athena SWAN Bronze Institution Award, due to be submitted in November 2021. For more information on this application please click here.
For more information on the Athena SWAN process in TU Dublin, check out our Athena SWAN eZine:
The Women Leaders in Higher Education (WLHE) Network, formed in 2016 by women academics at TU Dublin who had completed the Aurora Leadership Development programme, aims to support, encourage and advocate for women in career advancement in TU Dublin. The network holds two events annually committed to creating awareness of the issues influencing women’s career progression in the higher education sector. The WLHE network also provides informal networking and mentoring opportunities for women from across TU Dublin academic, professional services and research functions.
Equality in Science & Technology by Engaged Educational Mentoring (ESTEEM): The Esteem Programme aims to attract and retain female students in engineering and computer science by bringing female students together with professional women mentors from some of the largest multinational companies in Ireland, including Arup, Schneider Electric, Mastercard, SAP and the ESB. The goal is to provide female students with role models who can offer guidance about career opportunities in engineering, provide support and tools for navigating this male-dominated industry, and entice more young women into the field.
TU Dublin and Intel Partnership: TU Dublin and Intel Ireland signed a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2017 to establish a strategic partnership to undertake a varied programme of activity in a number of key areas of mutual interest. The programme includes projects aimed at developing and encouraging future talent and increasing the representation of women in STEM professions.
Coding Course for Female Students: Code First:Girls, an award winning UK-based organisation that aims to reduce the gender gap in technology, partners with TU Dublin to offer coding courses to female students. During the eight week course, which is offered twice per year, the participants learn the basics of CSS and HTML, using these technical skills to build their own website from scratch.
The Athena SWAN Working Group was formed in April 2020 and the Self Assessment Team was finalised in June 2020. They are hard at work progressing the 2021 Bronze Institution Award Application and Action Plan - you can keep up to date with their work here.