Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne TD says the Government must not drag its feet on producing a gender equality action plan for third level institutions.
Deputy Byrne made the comments after the Government announced the establishment of a Gender Equality Taskforce for Higher Education.
Deputy Byrne said, “It’s bewildering to see the Government announce yet another group to examine gender equality issues in Higher Education. If the Minister is looking for something to do, she should act on the recommendations that are already there.
“This latest taskforce is to bring forward a three year action plan. I would expect this to be achieved quickly given that it’s less than eighteen months since the Higher Education Authority (HEA) published an Expert Group report that they commissioned on gender equality.
“This Expert Group made a number of recommendations such as mandatory quotas for academic promotion, where the proportion of women and men to be promoted or recruited is based on the proportion of each gender at the grade immediately below. It also recommended that funding be linked to institutions’ performance, and be withheld if they fail to meet agreed targets.
“There were also calls for the HEA to establish a comprehensive database of staff in higher education institutions to provide an evidence base for monitoring progress in addressing gender inequality. A national committee to support gender equality in higher education was also recommended for establishment by the HEA, in partnership with the Irish University Association and Institutes of Technology Ireland.
“So much of the ground work for an action plan has already been put in place and I would hope, on that basis, the new Gender Equality Taskforce will be reporting very soon. We can’t tolerate any further delays on this,” warned Deputy Byrne.