IT Sligo is delighted to announce they have been awarded an Athena SWAN Bronze Award from Advance HE. This coveted award recognises extensive work undertaken in recent years to advance gender equality for staff and students in third-level colleges.

The Athena SWAN Charter is a framework used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education and research. Established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment, the Charter is now being used across the globe to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women. Advance HE members can apply for institutional and departmental Athena SWAN awards recognising their gender equality efforts.

President of IT Sligo, Dr Brendan McCormack added:

“This award is a significant recognition of our commitment to advancing the careers of women and trans staff and students in academia and research, professional and support roles in our institution. Higher Education institutions have a responsibility in creating a fairer and more diverse communities on campus and into the wider society.  Achieving this award is a great honour but is in no means the end of this journey.  We have many more milestones to reach along the road of achieving a culture of equality, inclusion and diversity in our Institute.  I am particularly delighted that our Connacht Ulster Alliance partners in LYIT and GMIT have also achieved Athena SWAN bronze status and we send our congratulations to colleagues across the CUA.”

Engagement with the charter is a key pillar of Ireland’s national strategy for gender equality with progress linked to institutional eligibility for funding from Ireland’s major research agencies. All of Ireland’s universities and institutes of technology and several colleges participate in Athena SWAN Ireland and to date there are currently 56 Bronze award holders.A large self-assessment team (SAT) from IT Sligo, made up of staff and students, led to the achievement of this Athena SWAN status for the institute.  Dr Jacqueline O’Toole, Chair of IT Sligo Institutional SAT also welcomed the award;

“This is great news for IT Sligo and represents our commitment to gender equality and indeed equality, diversity and inclusion in general. I would like to pay particular thinks to the members of the Institutional SAT who worked diligently over the past 2 years to bring the Action Plan to fruition. Although impacted greatly by the pandemic, our work continued apace and we are delighted with the strong endorsement we have received from Athena Swan Ireland. Onwards!”

Activity around Equality Diversity and Inclusion has greatly increased in recent years in the technological higher education sector since gender equality statements and policies were first introduced and since the Gender and Diversity statement was published by THEA and adopted by institutions in 2018.

Dr Jennifer Brennan, Director of Research, Development & Innovation and Athena SWAN National Committee member for THEA institutions commented on the awards: “Achieving an Athena SWAN bronze institutional award is a significant milestone, involving considerable commitment and work effort across institutional teams. We are particularly happy to see that the workshops and training sessions run by THEA recently on race equality and intersectionality, among others, have contributed to institutions’ Athena SWAN success. We are looking forward to assisting institutions as they work towards Departmental awards over the coming months and years.”

Victoria Brownlee, Head of Athena SWAN Ireland said: “Progress on gender equality right across higher education is essential for retaining talent and ensuring our institutions at all levels are representative of society. It is very encouraging to see so many applicants engage in improvements to support the spectrum of staff roles in the sector.”