The Athena SWAN Charter was established in the UK in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. The charter has since expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly. In a major national initiative supported by the Higher Education Authority, the Athena SWAN Charter was launched in Ireland in early 2015.
Athena SWAN at MIC
In February 2018 MIC became a member of the Athena SWAN charter. The Athena SWAN Charter is based on ten key principles. By being part of Athena SWAN, MIC is committing to a progressive charter; adopting these principles within their policies, practices, action plans and culture.
1. We acknowledge that academia cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of all.
2. We commit to advancing gender equality in academia, in particular, addressing the loss of women across the career pipeline and the absence of women from senior academic, professional and support roles.
3. We commit to addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional and support functions. In this we recognise disciplinary differences including:
• the relative underrepresentation of women in senior roles in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL)
• the particularly high loss rate of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM)
4. We commit to tackling the gender pay gap.
5. We commit to removing the obstacles faced by women, in particular, at major points of career development and progression including the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career.
6. We commit to addressing the negative consequences of using short-term contracts for the retention and progression of staff in academia, particularly women.
7. We commit to tackling the discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people.
8. We acknowledge that advancing gender equality demands commitment and action from all levels of the organisation and in particular active leadership from those in senior roles.
9. We commit to making and mainstreaming sustainable structural and cultural changes to advance gender equality, recognising that initiatives and actions that support individuals alone will not sufficiently advance equality.
10. All individuals have identities shaped by several different factors. We commit to considering the intersection of gender and other factors wherever possible.
In May 2018 MIC appointed Dr Elaine Murtagh as Project Director for Athena SWAN at the institution. Dr Murtagh will lead the preparation of the College’s application for a Bronze level institutional award. MIC is currently forming a Self-Assessment Team (SAT) that will be responsible for identifying both challenges and opportunities with regards to gender equality in MIC, and develop a comprehensive action plan to advance agreed priority areas over the award period.
For further information on the Athena SWAN charter see here.
To read the HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions see here.