The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has confirmed that the University of Limerick continues to have the highest percentage of women at professorial level in the country.
Thirty-one percent, or almost one third of professors at UL, are female. This compares to a national average of only 19%.
Speaking on the HEA report, UL president, Professor Don Barry said, “A university is about more than just buildings and facilities; it is the people who give universities life; they create a sense of energy and they provide the power to achieve great things. As you will be aware, in UL we are committed to ensuring that all faculty and staff are enabled to achieve their full potential through valuing diversity and equality of opportunity.”
UL was last year selected as the only Irish university to participate in FESTA – Female Empowerment in Science and Technology in Academia. A European Commission FP7 funded cross national initiative, FESTA is a five year collaborative project with partner universities in Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria and Turkey.
FESTA is concerned with implementing changes in the working environment of academic researchers, to encourage female researchers to stay and make a career in the academy and to create organizational environments where their competence is valued and fostered. In particular, the European initiative will seek to address the working environment of researchers in the lower levels of their careers, to make it possible for them to advance to the ranks of highest scientific expertise.
Pat O’Connor, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at UL and author of Management and Gender in Higher Education (2014), said, “The existence of variation within the university sector clearly indicates the importance of organizational structures, culture and procedures, and undermines arguments which suggest that the under-representation of women in such positions simply reflects women’s lack of ambition or caring responsibilities.