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Gender Equality in UCD

Page Updated: 12th May 2023

UCD is committed to supporting gender diversity, equality and inclusion in the University. For more information on how UCD is making strides in gender equality and how you can support UCD in contributing to positive change for everyone, continue reading below.

University College Dublin received its second Athena SWAN Bronze institutional award in recognition of the university’s work towards gender equality in 2020. To achieve this accreditation the institution demonstrated that it had undertaken a thorough self-assessment of gender equality challenges and has developed a detailed action plan to tackle them. 

The UCD Gender Equality Action Plan 2020-2024 was prepared by the Gender Equality Action Group and its Working Groups, in a process that involved external benchmarking, an EDI employee survey, focus groups and consultation across the university.  It includes actions relating to recruitment, promotions, leadership, work practices, organisation and culture.  The implementation of the Plan is already underway and includes mechanisms to track progress on each of the actions.  It will be updated to include the actions that arise from the review currently underway of the university’s policy and procedures on Dignity and Respect.

More information and supports can be found below.

AS Bronze award

Additional Resources & Information on Athena SWAN.

The Athena Swan charter launched in the Republic of Ireland in early 2015. The extension of the charter to Ireland was made possible through funding from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), which covers applications to the charter from 26 higher education institutions. 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 there are currently 112 award holders (19 institutions, 68 departments) as of December 2022.

The Athena Swan Ireland charter has recently undergone a re-development in line with the findings of a national consultation and offers a framework for progressing equality in higher education and research that is unique to Ireland. The objective of the Athena Swan Ireland 2021 charter framework is to support higher education institutions, academic departments, and professional units in impactful and sustainable gender equality work and to build capacity for evidence-based equality work across the equality grounds enshrined in Irish legislation. 

Athena SWAN Ireland Principles

The charter principles are the commitments that underpin Athena Swan Ireland and articulate the shared goals that all charter participants agree to upholding. The principles act as the foundation for the Ireland charter, with all other elements of the framework – including criteria, application and assessment – aligned to these commitments and the values enshrined within them.

In committing to the principles of the Athena Swan Ireland charter, we recognise that we join a global community with a shared goal of addressing systemic inequalities and embedding inclusive cultures in higher education.

We acknowledge that equality, diversity and inclusion strengthens higher education communities—the quality, relevance and impact of teaching and research, and the talent pool of potential staff and students. 

By participating in the Ireland charter framework, we strive for impactful and sustainable gender equality work in higher education institutions and seek to build capacity in evidence-based equality interventions across the equality grounds enshrined in Irish legislation.

We recognise that each institution, department, and professional unit has different equality challenges and development priorities, and that these priorities should be developed based on an understanding of the local evidence-base and national and global equality challenges in higher education.

In determining our priorities and interventions, we commit to:

  1. adopting robust, transparent, and accountable processes for Athena Swan work, including:
    • embedding equality, diversity, and inclusion in our culture, decision-making and partnerships, and holding ourselves and others in our institution/department/professional unit accountable.
    • ensuring active leadership from senior staff, with those in senior roles at the forefront of taking action, and inspiring and fostering dedication and involvement from staff at all levels.
    • collecting equality monitoring data to measure, understand and publicly report on challenges and progress, taking steps when necessary to support and encourage disclosure.
    • undertaking transparent self-assessment processes to ensure priorities, interventions and actions are evidenced-based and inform our continuous development.
    • distributing tasks appropriately, formally recognising and rewarding work and ensuring there is not a disproportionate burden on underrepresented groups.
  2. making and mainstreaming sustainable structural and cultural changes to remedy the effects of structural inequalities and social injustices, which manifest as differential experiences and outcomes for staff and students.
  3. tackling behaviours and cultures that detract from the creation of an institutional campus culture that is safe, respectful and supportive, including condemning sexual violence and harassment, bullying, discrimination, unfair treatment, or exploitation of staff, students or partners.
  4. addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional, managerial and support functions, including examining gendered occupational segregation, and elevating the status, voice, and career opportunities of under-valued and at-risk groups.
  5. fostering collective understanding that intersectional inequalities must be accounted for in the development of effective equality analysis and actions.
  6. mitigating the equality impacts of short-term and casual contracts for staff seeking sustainable careers.
  7. supporting flexibility and the maintenance of a healthy ‘whole life balance’ and mitigating the equality impact of career breaks and caring responsibilities.
  8. fostering collective understanding that individuals have the right to determine and affirm their gender, and to implementing inclusive and effective policies and practices that are cognisant of the lived experiences and needs of trans and non-binary people.

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UCD's commitment to the Athena Swan Ireland Principles can be found here.

With Horizon Europe, the Commission re-affirms its commitment to gender equality in research and innovation and sets gender equality as a cross-cutting priority. As a result, having a Gender Equality Plan (GEP) will be an eligibility criterion for certain categories of legal entities, including public bodies, from EU Member States and associated countries. This requirement will apply to all calls for proposals with a deadline in 2022 onwards. Horizon Europe has set out what it requires in a GEP with four mandatory process-related requirements as follows:

  1. Publication of a formal document
  2. Dedicated resources in gender equality
  3. Data collection and monitoring of gender
  4. Training and awareness raising on gender equality/unconscious bias

There are also five thematic themes that it requires an institution to address either in the GEP or broader EDI action plans (see Figure 1). The following statement demonstrates how UCD meets these GEP requirements in Horizon Europe.

Figure 1: Horizon Europe GEP Eligibility

Download the Horizon Europe - GEP Requirements document

Contact UCD Equality Diversity and Inclusion

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
E: edi@ucd.ie