The Equality Studies Centre runs a dynamic and strongly interdisciplinary research programme involving a wide range of both theoretical and empirical research on issues of equality, social justice and human rights. The originality of its work lies in its dialogical and democratic approach to both the development and dissemination of research and theory in the equality field. The work is driven by the desire to make research accessible to all, and by the practice of linking egalitarian theory to action for social change. The research programme is open and inclusive, and is grounded in the wide range of disciplinary traditions represented by staff and students at the Centre. 

As the Centre is devoted to cooperative modes of research inquiry, it is actively engaged in dialogue with local communities, non-governmental organisations, statutory and other bodies in promoting research-informed policy development. By promoting a strong emancipatory approach to empirical research studies and theory development it is a vibrant, exciting and supportive place in which to undertake research. 

Current and Completed Research Projects


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The Equality and Social Inclusion in Ireland Project was a two year collaborative project between three universities: University College Dublin (UCD), Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and the University of Ulster (UU). The research was funded under  Strand 2 of the Peace II/SEUPB North/South Research Programme.
Co-ordinators: Professor Kathleen Lynch, UCD Equality Studies Centre, and Professor Eithne McLaughlin, School of Sociology and Social Policy, QUB.
This project sets out to further develop Irish scholarship on the nature of equality and social inclusion in Ireland.  The project has two principle objectives:
First, to apply leading national and international scholarship on equality to peace-building and social development in Ireland.
Second, to further develop equality scholarship through dialogue between the academy and those involved in equality politics and community action, and through collaboration between scholars in the North and South of Ireland.
This project brings together leading scholars of equality and social inclusion who are based in a society of overt political conflict and social division with those in a society of covert social division and an absence of political violence. These two contrasting contexts inevitably affect the way we think and relate to issues of equality and social inclusion. The interchange of scholars brought together from these contrasting contexts will contribute to sustained scholarly development in this area.
Developing more sophisticated understandings of the nature of equality, the ways in which it can be achieved, and its benefits for the creation of a just society with a high level of social and economic development is a critical component of promoting peace and social inclusion in Ireland in the future.
Further information on the 2006 Conference and all dialogue events can be found on the Project website
Funding Body: Gender Equality Unit, Department of Education and Science.
Co-ordinators: Professor Kathleen Lynch, UCD Equality Studies Centre, UCD School of Social Justice, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4. Tel: 353-1-7167623; Email: and Dr Dympna Devine, UCD School of Education and Lifelong Learning, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4. Tel: 353-1-7168338; Email:
Post-doctoral Research Fellow: Dr Bernie Grummell, UCD Equality Studies Centre, UCD School of Social Justice, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4. Tel:353-1-7167859; Email:
Context, Aims and Objectives of Project: Although education is an increasingly feminised profession at all levels, research both nationally and internationally indicates that senior appointments in education are disproportionately male. While research has been conducted in Ireland on the reasons why women do not apply for senior posts in schools in particular, we know little about the culture of senior appointments and the institutional framework within which gendered appointments are made.
This was the first major study in Ireland to examine cultural codes enshrined in senior appointments at different educational levels and across different sectors of education. A series of 20 case studies were completed that explored the procedures and processes of recent senior appointments at primary, post-primary, third level and statutory educational agencies (for example principals of primary and post-primary schools, heads and other senior staff in third level institutions and statutory agencies). Each case study consisted of an in-depth qualitative interview with the recent appointee, interview(s) with one or more assessors from their interview board and the collection of supporting documentation (advertisements for the post, application forms and other relevant information). Discourse analysis of educational websites and newspapers will also be conducted to identify the public discourses circulating about educational leadership and senior management in Ireland (by examining the policies and publications of educational representative groups including trade unions, statutory and non-statutory educational bodies).
The objective of this research was to identify the cultural norms that govern senior appointments in education. It provided a valuable insight into how gender is encoded in the processes and procedures for recruiting suitable candidates, and in the definitions and terms of conditions of appointments. By so doing, it provided an informed context for reviewing existing procedures with a view to making them more genuinely inclusive, not only of women but also of men, who do not subscribe to the dominant definitions of performance-based, competitive cultures of management. By developing a counterfactual model for educational management that is more women friendly and care friendly, the study will also provide a valuable tool for a gender inclusive framework for all public (and private) sector senior appointments.
Funding Body: Equality Authority and Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
Co-ordinators: Judy Walsh, Equality Studies, School of Social Justice; Barry Fitzpatrick, Fitzpatrick Consulting, Belfast and Neil Jarman, Director, The Institute for Conflict Research, Belfast.
A team from the UCD School of Social Justice, which was led by Judy Walsh of the UCD Equality Studies Centre, collaborated with partners located in Northern Ireland on this research project. The study was commissioned by the statutory equality agencies from the two jurisdictions and identifies strategies to enable LGB individuals to secure their rights under equality law.

Click here to read the report in .pdf format
Funding Body: Rape Crisis Network of Ireland
Co-ordinator: Dr Maureen Lyons, UCD Equality Studies Centre, UCD School of Social Justice, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4. Tel: 353-1-7167642; Email:
Context, Aims and Objectives: It is imperative to have good data about the extent and nature of sexual violence in order to best meet the needs of those using the counselling and support services of the Rape Crisis Centres (RCCs) which comprise the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) and to inform the wider policy remit of RCNI. The RCNI is a multi-member political and campaigning organisation committed to the elimination of all forms of sexual violence through effecting political, cultural and social change.
Many who have experienced sexual violence who do not report to the Gardai do contact a RCC or similar agency. This suggests that they show up in the case files in these centres and not in official statistics. Therefore, it is important for RCCs to compile and disseminate statistics on the survivors they provide a service to because many will be invisible otherwise (Kilpatrick and Ruggiero, 2004; Kilpatrick, 2004).
The primary aim of this research is a statistical analysis of 2005 data from Rape Crisis Centres comprising the RCNI.  The data refer specifically to information collected from persons who contact a Centre for counselling and support, estimated at 12 per cent of all those in Ireland who experience sexual violence (RCNI, 2005). The second part of the project is to work with the RCNI to implement changes in the collection and recording system in order to maximise the comprehensiveness and usefulness of the data collected in the future.
Funding Body: The Irish Human Rights Commission
Researchers: Judy Walsh, Equality Studies Centre UCD and Fergus Ryan, Department of Legal Studies, Dublin Institute of Technology.
Prompted by normative considerations and demographic change various statutory bodies have recently highlighted the inequalities experienced by non-marital families. The purpose of this report, commissioned by the Irish Human Rights Commission, was to ascertain whether Irish law concerning same-sex and opposite-sex couples complies with relevant international human rights standards. A comprehensive survey of European Community measures, Council of Europe instruments, as well as relevant United Nations treaties was undertaken. The juxtaposition of Irish law with these standards reveals quite significant gaps in terms of human rights protection. The report highlights specific areas that require legislative amendment and predicts that other areas may need revision in the future as the interpretation of international norms evolves. At a more fundamental level, the report concludes that there is a compelling case for the enactment of a same-sex partnership recognition law. It also proposes the enactment of a statutory duty to equality proof legislation as a means of ensuring that Ireland complies with its international human rights obligations in this area. The report was presented to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on May 12, 2006 at the publication launch in the Human Rights Commission’s offices.
You can download a .pdf copy of the final report here.
Funding body: Department of Foreign Affairs.
Researcher: Carlos Bruen, Equality Studies Centre, UCD.
Context, Aims and Objectives of Project: Development education seeks to inform the public of the factors that perpetuate inequality, injustice and poverty, and by engaging people and promoting action, strives for ways in which to transform the existing structures of inequality toward more equitable models of development. In the context of increasing global inequalities, exploitation, human rights abuses, poverty and pollution, the role of development education as an agent of awareness building, understanding and change, is vital.
How development issues are represented, interpreted and acted upon is dependent on the language used to name them. In this way, language usage is a shared concern between the minority and majority worlds. The linguistic codes employed can frame the issues as matters of charity or justice; as politically neutral or politically problematic; as race and gender neutral or race and gender sensitive. In this way, the language used does not just interpret the world of development it also defines it.
This research attempts to explore the place of language in framing public discourse about development issues, in particular in relation to issues such as trade, debt, poverty, gender, human rights and inequality. The study will build on existing knowledge of development issues by engaging in a critical and challenging analysis of the public discourse of development. The findings will contribute to a greater understanding of the ways in which the interpretation of development issues, in particular north/south inequalities and crises, are represented in public discourse. By creating debate about language and development issues generally, this research will go some way to facilitating a debate concerning the needs and rights of new ethnic minorities in particular. Findings will inform those involved in development education, including practitioners, learners, activists as well as NGO’s, policy makers and members of the wider educational research community.
Methodology: Using a Critical Discourse Analysis approach, the study will be undertaken according to the principles of co-operative and emancipatory research (Lynch, 1999 and Lynch and Lodge, 2002). The focus of Critical Discourse Analysis is on analysing the language used while also examining the relationships that influence that language.
The research will examine the language used in the promotional literature, advertising and policy pronouncements on development of:
1 non-governmental organisation, namely Concern;
1 governmental organisation, namely Ireland Aid
Specifically, the analysis will include an exploration of the semantics and codes of interpretation as well as the non-verbal images used. It will examine in particular whether the language and imagery used promotes the egalitarian and social justice objectives articulated by the two organisations.
Promotional, policy and related texts will also be examined in the context of multilateral, statutory and/or non-governmental influence from the external environment. In order to achieve this, dialogue will take place with key informants within the 2 organisations. In so doing, it is hoped to gain an understanding of how organisations come to use the language they do and now wider policy contexts and issues impinge on the framing of development discourses.