Greater effort needed to promote gender equality in third level education – O’Loughlin

Published on: 20 July 2017

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Equality Fiona O’Loughlin TD says the Government and third level institutions need to recommit to the principle of achieving gender equality in third level education.

Deputy O’Loughlin made the comments after a new report by the Higher Education Authority showed that there remains an acute lack of women in senior roles right across the third level sector.

Deputy O’Loughlin said, “While the HEA acknowledges that some progress is being made in promoting gender equality in third level education, the progress made to date has nonetheless been excruciatingly slow. The new data shows that an improvement of just 2% was made in addressing the under-representation of women at senior levels and management of institutions between 2015 and 2017. It’s clear that a greater effort is needed to help secure gender equality in the coming years.

“The Government needs to adopt a ‘carrot and stick’ approach to dealing with this issue. Sanctions should be imposed on third level institutions which fail to make significant progress in promoting gender equality, while incentives should be made available for those institutions which meet ambitious targets. If the third level sector fails to respond to this approach then serious consideration will have to be given towards the idea of introducing gender quotas for senior management positions.

“There is an abundance of research available which shows that institutions benefit when management positions have an equal makeup of both men and women. The third level sector is missing out on an abundance of talent by not promoting capable and highly qualified women to senior positions. Junior Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor needs to get stuck into this issue as a top priority,” concluded Deputy O’Loughlin.

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