University of Limerick retains top spot in gender balance

Jess Casey


Jess Casey


University of Limerick retains top spot in gender balance

According to the latest data from the Higher Education Authority, 31% of UL professorships are held by women

COMPULSORY training in unconscious biases, dignity and respect has helped the University of Limerick retain its top spot when it comes to the representation of women in senior positions. 

The introduction of protected research time for returning academics has also helped the numbers of women going forward for promotion increase, according to the university. 

UL continues to rank among the top higher level institutes nationwide in terms of the number of women in senior academic roles but acknowledges that more needs to be when it comes to addressing current gender imbalances. 

According to the latest data from the Higher Education Authority, 31% of UL professorships are held by women.

Women also hold 36% of associate professorships within the university and 45% of senior lecturers are women. 

“UL is performing well when it comes to the percentage of women in senior positions, however there is always more to do,” Dr Marie Connolly, UL head of equality and diversity said. 

UL is a Bronze Athena SWAN Institution Award, the first University in Ireland with Trinity College to receive the award in 2015.

“Since engaging with the Athena SWAN Self-Assessment process, we have worked hard to increase the visibility of female participation in senior decision-making committees within the institution,” Dr Connolly said.

“Currently, our two vice presidents are women as well as three out of five of our Deans. Certainly, there is a way to go but we are on the right track and will continue to dedicate our efforts to gender equality.”

The introduction of compulsory unconscious bias training for all promotions and selection board members, as well as compulsory dignity and respect training for all staff has been seen as a positive measure, according to UL. 

The university has also introduced a requirement to have a 40% gender representation on all recruitment and selection boards. 

Existing supports for women also include the availability of formal mentors, promotions workshops, retention processes and special research leave as well as the introduction of the Research Grant for Returning Academic Carers. 

This grant provides additional support in the form of protected research time to minimise the impact of extended leave for reasons connected to caring, like adoption leave, additional paternity or maternity leave or leave to care for a dependant.  According to UL, the introduction of this protected research time has seen the numbers of women successfully going forward for promotion increase.