Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science, Simon Harris,  launched the National Gender Equality Dashboard in honour of International Women’s Day. The Dashboard, developed by Maynooth University, provides information on gender equality within higher education institutions (HEIs). 

The figures display positive signs of equality among overall staff in HEIs; 51% of these staff members are female while 49% are male. However, these figures are not represented in the highest decision-making positions in HEIs. Women make up only 26% of these positions in Irish universities. The dashboard was developed by researchers in Maynooth University’s AIRO – The All-Island Research Observatory – using the HEAs’ Higher Education Institutional Staff Profiles by Gender Data. 

Harris, speaking on International Women’s Day, commented, “Much work has been done by our higher education institutions in recent years to address systemic gender inequality and we can see that progress today”. He added, “Across my department, we are working to improve gender equality. As well as higher education, I am committed to increasing the participation of women and girls in science and technology”.

Dr Gemma Irvine, Vice President for Equality and Diversity at Maynooth University, commented on the advantages of the dashboard, saying “Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) is everyone’s responsibility. This Dashboard gives people easy access to see the data for themselves, helping people to better identify where problems lie and to track progress as we implement our gender equality plan.”

The Dashboard has brought great attention to the issue of gender equality in HEIs with many, including UCD, holding their own events or launching their own initiatives to celebrate the day. UCD hosted and is still to host several events including a talk on ‘Bridging the Gender Gap – Research and Responses to Covid-19’ held on the day itself and an International Women’s Day workshop on ‘Introducing the Leader within’ which will take place on March 11th. The UCD Library has also launched a spotlight initiative displaying titles from their collection focusing on gender roles, equality, and feminism. 

Adam O’Sullivan – Reporter