The Athena SWAN Charter is a framework which is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within HE 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.
The Charter was launched in Ireland in early 2015. Figures published by the Higher Education Authority (2016) highlight gender inequality as an issue for the higher education sector. The Gender Action Plan (2018) developed by the Gender Equality Taskforce includes a set of actions which are intended to effect significant change. The Athena SWAN Charter is based on the “Athena SWAN Principles”. By being part of Athena SWAN, institutions are committing to a progressive charter, adopting these principles within their policies, practices, action plans, and culture. IT Sligo has adopted these principles and seeks to embed them in all our activities. IT Sligo has set up an Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team (SAT) in 2019 to undertake an analysis of the position of IT Sligo with respect to gender equality and to develop an Action Plan to address any identified issues. The Action Plan was approved by Governing Body in November 2020.
In March 2021 the Institute was delighted to be conferred with an Institutional Bronze Award by Advance HE Ireland. This award recognises the significant body of work carried out by the SAT and the commitment of the Institute to addressing gender inequality. Our CUA Partners, LyIT and GMIT, were also awarded Institutional Bronze Awards in the same application round. This is great news for the CUA and will make the process of transferring a Legacy Award to the new university in 2020 a much more straightforward process. As part of this process, the CUA will be required to merge the three action plans into one. In the meantime, the Institute will continue to implement the Gender Equality Action Plan, reporting progress to the Governing Body.
As part of the self-assessment process IT Sligo carried out a staff survey in February / March 2020. Below is a video commissioned to explain the purpose of the survey and to encourage staff to complete it. Over 73% of staff completed the survey, and its results are being analysed.