NUIG lecturer awarded €70k in equality case

A lecturer in NUI Galway has been awarded €70,000 in damages and been promoted following a gender equality case.

NUI Galway was instructed by the Equality Tribunal to immediately promote Dr Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington and award her the damages after the tribunal found the college had discriminated against her on the grounds of her gender.

Sheehy-Skeffington applied for a senior lectureship post in 2009 but was not appointed.

In it’s ruling, the tribunal described NUIG’s interview process as “ramshackle” and ordered the college to review its policies and procedures in relation to promotions.

DR Sheehy-Skeffington, a highly qualified botanist, applied to become a senior lecturer in NUIG in 2009 for the fourth time, after 19 years as a college lecturer.

She was not appointed and following an unsuccessful internal appeal, she took a case based on gender discrimination to the tribunal.

The tribunal last week found in her favour and cited both direct and indirect discrimination and found that on paper, promotion to senior lecturer at NUIG seemed to be fair.

It emerged at the tribunal that there was no training for interviewers or no meeting to discuss candidates. The tribunal also showed concern that one male candidate who was promoted was not even eligible to apply for the position.

“All female applicants short-listed met the requirement of having enough service. Clearly all men did not,” it stated.

No candidate, successful or unsuccessful, has supervised more PhDs to completion than the complainant, it added.

It found that men at NUI Galway had a one in two chance of being promoted to senior lecturer whilst female academics had a less than one in three chance of getting the same position.

Dr Sheehy-Skeffington has taught at the School of Botany in NUIG since 1999 and is a highly qualified botanist who has been widely published.

The university initiated a major review of senior lecturer promotion procedures in 2012/2013. The university said it regretted the distress caused to Dr Sheehy-Skeffington and thanked her for her contribution to NUI Galway over many years.

Sharron Lynskey

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