President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne has spoken of his regret at the “terrible damage” caused to the university’s reputation by the controversy over its invasive occupational health questionnaire.
Last month, the university came under fire after issuing a health questionnaire to potential female employees quizzing them on their menstrual cycle. The survey was described as ‘misogynistic’ and ‘excessively personal’ by potential applicants.
“That’s something that should never have happened here and we have taken steps to rectify that,” stated Browne in an interview with The Connacht Tribune. “We were certainly not aware that it was going on. It [the questionnaire] has been withdrawn and is being revised completely,” he continued.
Among questions included in the survey were: “Do you suffer with any problems with your menstrual periods? Do you suffer any breast problems?” The story immediately hit headlines, therefore resulting in various speculations over its intention by many political representatives.
Browne also claimed that some politicians deliberately misled the public on the story in an effort to steal media limelight.
“There was stuff said about us by certain public representatives which was blatantly untrue. One particular representative said people were being asked these questions at interview which was never true,” commented Browne. The original story states that the survey was an occupational health ‘pre-employment health assessment’ and was certainly not part of an interview.
Browne believes that similar PR disasters are often inevitable when involving large organisations. An “[outsourcing of] assessment of staff from a medical point of view” is a major culprit in the issue according to Browne. The President also comprehends that greater attention in ensuring that “sufficient care” was taken regarding the format of the survey would have prevented this.
Browne regrets the mishap but ensures its immediate correction upon redistribution of the questionnaire.