University of Limerick has made 'significant advancement' for women in senior roles

Jess Casey

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Jess Casey

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University of Limerick has made 'significant advancement' for women in senior roles

UL President Des Fitzgerald with d Brid Horan, former Deputy CEO of ESB and conference chair. Picture: Alan Place

THE UNIVERSITY of Limerick has increased its representation of women in senior roles by 23% since 2007, an International Women’s Day conference has heard. 

During the last 10 years, UL has moved from an 8% representation of women at full professorial levels to a 31% representation today, according to UL head of equality and diversity Marie Connolly. 

This compares to a 21% national average, she added. 

“As one of the first institutions in Ireland to achieve the prestigious Athena SWAN Bronze Institution Award our focus, in line with the extended charter, is now to move beyond just women in STEM towards gender equality at all senior levels,” Ms Connolly said. 

“Our aim is to promote an organisational culture that emphasises ethical practices, honesty, integrity, diversity, equity and respect for all in which people are valued and motivated to excel and achieve their full potential in a collegial and supportive environment.” 

As UL hosts its tenth annual International Women’s Day conference, #PressforProgress, contributors from across industry and academia are gathering at the university to discuss women pressing for progress and diversity in the workplace. 

The conference was chaired by Brid Horan, former Deputy CEO of ESB and a member of the steering committee and former chair of the 30% Club, formed in 2015 with a goal to achieve better gender balance at all levels in leading Irish businesses.

Speakers include Fiona De Búrca, partner at PWC; Melíosa O'Caoimh, managing director at Northern Trust;Michelle Keating, co-founder and chair of Women for Election and Carol Widger, partner at Maples and Calder. 

UL lecturer Brenda Romero, a BAFTA award-winning game designer, artist and Fulbright scholar, also spoke about her experience since she entered the video game industry in 1981. 

UL students participating in the Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing, and Design (STEM2D) programme were also presented with awards at the event. 

Last year, a total of 20 students from science, technology, engineering, maths, manufacturing, and design courses were selected to participate in the WiSTEM2D Team Projects in 2017.  

As part of the programme, students met at workshops where they discussed their experiences as women pursuing a career in STEM, listened to female STEM role models and engaged in projects that aimed to challenge STEM stereotypes. 

The students worked in groups to produce five videos that aimed to specifically target stereotypes in design, engineering, biology, technology and chemistry.

At the IWD event, the students displayed their projects and the winning team was presented with a trophy and an additional bursary.

The winning team was made up of students Alice Parkes, from Co. Limerick, Wiktoria Brytan, from Waterford; Shauna O’Meara, from Co. Tipperary and Roisin Molloy, Co Galway.