Gender equality conference to be held in Ireland next year

Callum Lavery

Ireland will host the 10th European Conference on Gender Equality in Higher Education next year in Trinity College.

Announced by Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor, this is the first time that the conference will be held in Ireland.The convention began in 1998 and is held biannually. It brings together gender equality practitioners, researchers, and administrators from across Europe.

The conference allows officials to exchange findings and share ideas relating to gender equality in higher education, from gender balance in academia to internal promotion inequality based on sex.

“Hosting of this conference is an ideal opportunity for Ireland to outline the advances we are making towards tackling gender inequality in our third level institutions. These conferences provide a major international meeting point of higher education researchers and policy makers, and we can learn from the experiences of colleagues in other countries, to assist us in addressing the challenges that we all face,” O’Connor said.

While Ireland ranked above the EU average in gender equality in a report published last month, Irish institutions have been criticised for gender inequality in the past. NUIG, for example, was condemned last month after pressuring four female lecturers to take a settlement from the college following a gender discrimination dispute.

DCU, however, is currently the leading university in Ireland for female academia according to figures released in a report by the Higher Education Authority (HEA). Currently 56 per cent of academic staff in DCU are female, two per cent higher than the national average.

Chairperson of DCU Feminism Society, Isha McDonnell, welcomed the announcement.

“It’s so positive to see such an increasing emphasis on equal representation in universities and the conference will help everyone involved in these issues to fully understand just how complex they are, as well as how to properly go about fixing them.”

The first European conference on gender equality in higher education was organised in Finland by the University of Helsinki in 1998. Since then the conferences have been held in Zürich (2000), Genoa (2003), Oxford (2005), Berlin (2007), Stockholm (2009), Bergen (2012), Vienna (2014) and Paris (2016).

Callum Lavery

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