Grangegorman campus

TU Dublin is proud to hold an Athena Swan Legacy 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

Athena SWAN Bronze award logo

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 27% of Professors are women and, while women comprise 65% of non-academic staff, they comprise 43% of the highest paid full-time non-academic staff (December 2020). 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), 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 address 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.

Faculties, Schools and Professional Units can apply for an award. An application comprises a thorough evaluation of the gender balance at all levels, the work environment and an evaluation of the policies and processes 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.

Students studying at their computers

The Athena Swan Ireland 2021 charter framework aims to support higher education institutions, academic departments and professional units to progress evidence-based, sustainable, and impactful gender equality work and to develop their capacity to undertake equality work across the equality grounds enshrined in Irish legislation.

Charter participants commit to:

  1. Adopting robust transparent and accountable processes for Athena Swan work including
    1. embedding equality, diversity, and inclusion in our culture, decision-making and partnerships, and holding ourselves and others in our institution/department/professional unit accountable.
    2. ensuring active leadership from senior staff, with those in senior roles at the forefront of taking action, and inspiring and fostering dedication and involvement from staff at all levels.
    3. collecting equality monitoring data to measure, understand and publicly report on challenges and progress, taking steps when necessary to support and encourage disclosure.
    4. undertaking transparent self-assessment processes to ensure priorities, interventions and actions are evidenced-based and inform our continuous development.
    5. distributing tasks appropriately, formally recognising and rewarding work and ensuring there is not a disproportionate burden on underrepresented groups.
  2. Making and mainstreaming sustainable structural and cultural changes to remedy the effects of structural inequalities and social injustices, which manifest as differential experiences and outcomes for staff and students.
  3. Tackling behaviours and cultures that detract from the creation of an institutional campus culture that is safe, respectful and supportive, including condemning sexual violence and harassment, bullying, discrimination, unfair treatment, or exploitation of staff, students or partners.
  4. Addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional, managerial and support functions, including examining gendered occupational segregation, and elevating the status, voice, and career opportunities of under-valued and at-risk groups.
  5. Fostering collective understanding that intersectional inequalities must be accounted for in the development of effective equality analysis and actions.
  6. Mitigating the equality impacts of short-term and casual contracts for staff seeking sustainable careers.
  7. Supporting flexibility and the maintenance of a healthy ‘whole life balance’ and mitigating the equality impact of career breaks and caring responsibilities.
  8. Fostering collective understanding that individuals have the right to determine and affirm their gender, and to implementing inclusive and effective policies and practices that are cognisant of the lived experiences and needs of trans and non-binary people.

More information on Athena SWAN Ireland

More information from the Higher Education Authority Centre of Excellence for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Students studying notes in a lecture theatre

Lab work

TU Dublin submitted an Institutional Athena Swan Bronze Award Application in January 2022.  The Athena Swan Self Assessment Team would like to thank everyone who contributed to the development of the institutional application, particularly all staff who responded to the Equality and Inclusion Survey 2021 and the Athena Swan Focus Groups 2021.  The data significantly informed our application and action plan.

For more information on the Athena Swan process in TU Dublin, check out our Athena Swan Ezine:

Student working in class

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): This is an initiative of Engineering and Computer Science and provides female students with an industry based female mentor and role model 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.  More recently, the Saer Mentoring programme, funded by Salesforce International, will place 120 ICT students from underrepresented groups, including women, socio-economic disadvantage and disability into mentored industry internships.  The ESTeEM project lead was awarded the Electrical Industries Federation of Ireland (EIFI) President’s Award in 2019.

Engineering Your Future National Transition Year programme: A four day programme of interactive design activities from the broad range of engineering disciplines offered by TU Dublin.

Computing Academy: The School of Computer Science has an annual Academy for secondary schools with 50% places reserved for females, and gender balance in staff delivery.

Coding4Girls Summer Camp: This is open to second level female students, no previous coding experience is required and it caters for 40 students.  On arrival students are formed into teams and they take part in coding activities, puzzles and challenges on preconfigured computers. The event provides tailored coaching, training and guidance to ensure that each individual gets the most out of the camp activities; takes place in computer labs on the Blanchardstown Campus; and is delivered by TU Dublin lecturers.

Computer Science Inclusive (CSinc): This is a voluntary group of enthusiastic educators based out of TU Dublin, Tallaght campus who devote their spare time to promoting inclusivity in Computer Science at primary and second level. The CSinc team have developed geographical, socio-economic, gender and age inclusive practices to promote Computer Science education in formal and informal curricula in Ireland.  CSinc programmes address incorrect perceptions about Computer Science, and have developed research-based and pedagogically sound inclusive primary and secondary-level outreach models.

Students working on computer

Student measuring a piece of metal