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Equality Office

Athena Swan

The Athena SWAN Charter

The Athena SWAN Charter evolved from work between the Athena Project and the Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN), to advance the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM). The Charter was officially launched at the Institute of Physics on 22 June 2005, with the first awards conferred in 2006. The Charter has grown consistently from its inception.
All Athena SWAN members sign up to the principles of the charter:

  •  To address gender inequalities requires commitment and action from everyone, at all levels of the organisation
  •  To tackle the unequal representation of women in science requires changing cultures and attitudes across the organisation
  •  The absence of diversity at management and policy-making levels has broad implications which the organisation will examine
  •  The high loss rate of women in science is an urgent concern which the organisation will address
  •  The system of short-term contracts has particularly negative consequences for the retention and progression of women in science, which the organisation recognises
  •  There are both personal and structural obstacles to women making the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career in science, which require the active consideration of the organisation


DCU Athena SWAN Bronze Institute Award Application

Extension of the Athena SWAN Charter for women in science to the higher education sector in Ireland

DCU, along with other Irish Universities and third level institutions is working to address gender imbalances in the higher education sector through the extension of the Athena SWAN Charter to Ireland. On 8th April 2014, the UK-based Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) announced that they will, for the first time, make access to their awards system possible outside of the UK by allowing Irish higher education institutions to sign up to the Athena SWAN Charter for women in science from Autumn 2014. Signing the Charter is the first step towards applying for Athena SWAN Awards, which recognise and celebrate good practice in recruiting, retaining and promoting women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) in higher education.  The official Launch of this initiative, 5th February 2015, marks a significant milestone in DCU’s commitment to addressing gender imbalances that may exist.

Applications are rigorously reviewed prior to an Award being made, and progress is closely monitored afterwards. Securing an award under the Charter involves the development of an institution-wide Action Plan to improve gender equality and diversity, and putting in place appropriate structures to rigorously monitor progress of the Plan’s implementation. The Plan itself must be specific to issues faced by the institution. Experience has shown that active engagement and significant “buy-in” from academic staff and senior management is critical to a Plan’s successful implementation.

A message from our President

DCU has long been an advocate for Diversity and Inclusion particularly when it comes to equality of opportunity in accessing education. We recognise the key role we play in equipping our students to enter an increasingly diverse and intercultural workplace. DCU is focused on creating leaders who will have an impact on the economic and social development of society. One area where that has been highlighted as needing attention is the progression of women in the STEMM areas, which are represented by two of the Faculties in DCU. The Athena SWAN Charter provides us with a framework to examine if barriers to the full participation of women exist in these areas. It will also build on our existing commitment to the development of a gender action plan which will have targeted actions with measurable outputs that over time will effect change. The benefit of this process is that it allows for the University and the Schools within the STEMM areas to continually refine processes and procedures and requires them to be rigorously examined, by an independent panel, to confirm that they are free from discrimination and bias.
I strongly support DCU's engagement with the Athena SWAN Charter and look forward to the outputs from the Self -Assessment Team, chaired by Professor Greg Hughes.

Professor Greg Hughes, Chair of the DCU Athena Swan Committee

Staffing profiles in higher education mirror the general Irish workforce pattern in that women are usually well represented in the sector, but there is a lack of women in senior academic posts. This is particularly true across the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) disciplines. The Athena Swan awards scheme was established in 2005 to recognise employment excellence for women in the STEMM disciplines and to encourage 3rd level institutions to address the issues related to the under representation of women in senior academic positions. The role of the DCU Athena Swan Committee, which I chair, is to undertake a self assessment exercise to determine the current status within the university and to develop an action plan aimed at achieving a more balanced gender representation at senior academic levels. In applying for an Athena Swan Award, DCU is expressing its commitment to advancing equality and diversity in the workplace for the benefit of all staff and students.

Prof Greg Hughes has been member of the School of Physical Sciences since 1986 and served as Head of School from 2009 - 2012. He has published extensively in the field of semiconductor surface science and his group is in receipt of funding from Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the European Union. He was the recipient of the President’s Research Award in Science and Engineering in 2013 in recognition of his research achievements. His current research, which focusses on the characterisation of materials used in advanced semiconductor device fabrication, is carried out in close collaboration with industrial partners.

DCU Athena Swan Committee Members

  • Prof. Greg Hughes, School of Physical Sciences (Chair)  
  • Dr. Amy Harrington, Equality Office (Project Coordinator)
  • Prof. Christine Loscher, School of Biotechnology 
  • Mr. Paul Smith, International Office
  • Dr. Lorna Fitzsimons, School of Mechanical Engineering  
  • Dr. Eabhnatt Ní Fhloinn, School of Mathematical Sciences
  • Dr. Aoife Morrin, School of Chemical Sciences
  • Mr. Martin Leavy, HR - Training and Development
  • Dr. Joe Stokes, School of Mechanical Engineering
  • Ms. Aisling Mckenna, Quality Promotion and Institutional Research
  • Dr. Mary-Rose Sweeney, School of Nursing
  • Dr. Melrona Kirrane, DCU Business School
  • Prof. John Costello, Executive Dean Sciences
  • Dr. Gareth Jones, School of Computing
  • Ms. Deirdre Wynter, Communications and Marketing Department
  • Mr. Domhnaill Harkin, Undergraduate Representative, Students Union Welfare Officer
  • Dr. Susan Kelleher, Postdoctoral Representative, BDI
  • Ms. Kim Connick, Postgraduate Representative, School of Biotechnology

For more information

Sandra Healy, Head of Diversity and Inclusion
Phone: 01 700 6169