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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 9 July, 2020

Ireland's first ever female minister has a new job

An independent panel, chaired by former European Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, is to investigate the issue.

AN INDEPENDENT PANEL, chaired by former European Commissioner and Fianna Fáil minister Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, is to comprehensively examine issues of gender equality among Irish higher education staff.

The panel will perform a system-wide review of gender-profiles and gender-equality policies at all institutions in receipt of funding from the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

Geoghegan-Quinn served as a TD for Galway from 1975 to 1997. She became the first female minister in the history of the Irish state in 1979.

She will be joined on the five-strong panel by a number of academics from both Ireland and abroad.

Launch of EU Research Programmes in Autism Maire Geoghegan-Quinn Source: Laura Hutton/

“The review will take as its starting-point an analysis of the current position in higher education in Ireland in respect of gender-equality, examining this across all grades of staff,” said HEA chief executive Tom Boland.

It will examine the reasons for continuing gender-inequality among staff across the sector.
But importantly it will also be forward-looking, adopting a ‘quality-enhancement’ approach to building on the sector’s achievements to date in this area.

The HEA already publishes data on the gender-breakdown of academic and senior academic staff and recently negotiated the extension of the Athena SWAN Charter to Ireland, supporting higher education institutions to effect cultural and systemic change to foster gender equality.

It is expected that the panel will report with its findings within 12 months.

Last month, NUIG (one of the institutions that will be investigated by the panel) announced that it was to introduce training to address “unconscious gender bias” among its staff.

Read: Women make up just 20% of those in the top civil service jobs

Read: There are very, very few women in the Irish Army…

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