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NUIG wants to rid itself of sexism by training staff to recognise 'unconscious gender bias'

The university’s governing authority has endorsed the recommendations of a gender equality taskforce report.

NUI GALWAY IS to introduce training to address “unconscious gender bias” among staff members, its governing authority has confirmed.

The training will be mandatory for all senior management staff, including heads of schools, committee chairs and heads of interview boards.

Participants in the training will learn to “recognise their own biases [to help them] make better and more rational decisions”, a report endorsed by the university’s board said.

The measure was one of several recommendations presented to the board by a gender equality taskforce established after Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington brought a successful discrimination case against the university.

The Equality Tribunal found that the now retired academic had been unfairly discriminated against in a senior lecturer promotion round because of her gender.

Four other female lecturers who were passed over for promotion are currently taking legal actions against the university.

Addressing concerns

At a meeting today, the NUIG governing authority also committed to:

  • Establishing the position of a new vice president of equality and diversity, who will initially focus on gender equality,
  • Ensuring all major influential committees are comprised of a minimum of 40% women and 40% men by the end of 2016,
  • Allowing an external expert to reviews its promotion and progression policies for all grades of staff.

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Professor Jane Grimson, the former vice provost of Trinity College Dublin who chaired the taskforce, said the measures intended to address the “widespread concern” among staff members about the issue of gender equality.

“Having more women in senior positions within an organisation improves the quality of decision making and diversity also enhances creativity and innovation which are at the heart of university business,” she said.

Judge Catherine McGuinness, chair of the NUIG governing authority, welcomed the recommendations, which she said will be fully implemented.

The university is “fully committed to achieving equality for all staff, irrespective of gender,” she said.

Read: NUI Galway says questionnaire about menstrual cycles did not decide who got jobs >

Read: Staff at NUI Galway to start investigation into structural inequality >

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Catherine Healy

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