Wednesday 03 June 2020

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CIT delight at major equality award

Wednesday, 8th May, 2019 4:41pm

A major push at CIT to improve equality in the college has resulted in a major award.

Last week it was awarded a coveted Athena SWAN bronze award after nearly two years of data-gathering, gap analysis and self-assessment, followed by five months of waiting.

The Athena SWAN Charter recognises and celebrates good practice in recruiting, retaining and promoting women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) in higher education.

The Athena SWAN process is a commitment to removing barriers that contribute to under-representation and taking a targeted approach to addressing internal and external issues.

Since submitting its bronze award application, CIT has been proactive in its efforts to progress in adopting the Athena SWAN principles.

To this end, a full-time administrator has been appointed in this area, and the institute’s Self-Assessment Team (SAT) is being expanded, with new members being recruited from non-STEMM departments.

Various staff are undertaking unconscious bias training, while other members of staff are pursuing mentoring certifications, as well as participating in seminars such as developing workplace allies for LGBTI+ staff.

The SAT has planned initiatives in relation to maternity leave policies and support networks, the ageing workforce and work life balance initiatives.

The Athena SWAN Charter was launched in Ireland in early 2015. Figures published by the Higher Education Authority highlight gender inequality as an issue for the higher education sector.

The Gender Action Plan developed by the Gender Equality Taskforce includes a set of actions which are intended to affect significant change. In institutes of technology, women make up 45 per cent of academic staff but just 29 per cent of senior academic staff. In CIT, while 45 per cent of academic staff are female and two of the three vice presidents are female, only 27 per cent of the current Executive team are female and 15 per cent of senior lecturers are female.

Dr Orla Flynn, Vice President for External Affairs and Chair of CIT’s Self-Assessment Team commented: “The achievement of the Athena SWAN bronze award has been a truly collective effort, with input from staff right across the institute. While we are absolutely thrilled to receive the award, this marks the beginning of a real journey of implementation – taking action to address deficiencies that we have identified. My thanks to the entire community within CIT who assisted in any way and to those from other universities who helped and encouraged us throughout.”

President of CIT, Dr Barry O’Connor, commented: “As an institute, but more importantly as a community, CIT actively promotes equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) across all its activities, encompassing students, staff and community engagement. Our mission aligns well with the origins and growth of the Athena Swan movement and Charter.

“This recognition is another milestone along the evolutionary pathway of CIT that can trace its roots back to the founding of the Royal Cork Institution in 1803. Then, as now, our institution is reflecting the mores of contemporary society.”

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