October 2019 | Deireadh Fómhair 2019

School Receives Athena SWAN Award

Thu, 10 October 19 11:22

We are delighted to announce that the School has received an Athena SWAN Bronze award for its commitment to gender equality and inclusion.  This award was made on the basis of a gender equality action plan that describes how the School will drive gender equality for our faculty, staff and students.

L-R: Licia Carlesi, Senior Executive Assistant, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit,  Associate Professor, Donal Finn, College of Engineering and Architecture, Simone Ciuiti, Assistant Professor and Antoinette Perry Assistant Professor, School of Biology and Environmental Science, Professor Orla Feely, Vice President, Research, Innovation and Impact, Marcellina Fogarty, Manager, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit, Eimear O’Reilly, Project Officer, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit, Associate Professor, Marguerite Clyne,  School of Medicine,  Rory Carey, Director Culture and Engagement, University College Dublin

Our colleagues in the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science and the College of Engineering and Architecture (which comprises a further six Schools) were similarly recognised in the Athena SWAN 2019 Awards.  Together with four previous UCD Schools that achieved Athena SWAN Spring 2019 awards, a total of twelve UCD Schools have now achieve Athena SWAN recognition and are delivering on their ambitious gender equality action plans.  These Schools encompass some 1,350 faculty & staff and almost 10,000 students.  The University was awarded a Bronze Award in 2017 and is currently implementing its three-year action plan for 2017 – 2020, in a move which has seen equality, diversity and inclusion become firmly established in the institution’s strategic plan.

The School’s Athena SWAN self-assessment team was led by Associate Professor Marguerite Clyne and co-chaired by Professor Denis Shields.  Over the past two years, they have evaluated all aspects of our academic programmes from the perspective of gender equality and the Self-Assessment team submitted their analysis and proposed action plan in April 2019.

Associate Professor Marguerite Clyne has extended a renewed invitation to all School Staff and Students who wish to become involved in the implementation of our Athena SWAN action plan.  Associate Professor Marguerite Clyne said,

“This is a significant first step for the School of Medicine becoming a more inclusive place for both staff and students.  The challenge is for all of us to play our part and become involved as we implement our action plan and make our ambition an everyday reality.”

Our Dean of Medicine and Head of School, Professor Michael Keane echoed this message of participation by all.

“Congratulations to Marguerite and her team on this significant first step.  Our ultimate aim is to ensure that the School of Medicine is a place where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential. However, our success is dependent on the support and participation of everyone in the school for this initiative and I encourage you to get involved in whatever way you can.” 

“I am delighted to congratulate the Schools that have achieved this success on the basis of their commitment to delivering gender equality, encouraging greater female participation in STEM and ultimately making UCD a more inclusive place to work and study for everyone,”

said Professor Orla Feely, Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact and Chair of UCD’s Gender Equality Action Group.  Building on UCD’s institutional Athena SWAN Bronze Award, these awards mark the second round of UCD Schools that have embarked on a data driven audit and a School-wide consultation of gender equality and inclusion among employees and students. As a result of the audits, the Schools involved have begun to implement ambitious four-year gender equality strategies to ensure gender equality as part of UCD’s goal of being an employer and university of choice.

Examples of steps these Schools are taking to create an inclusive culture include: 

  • A minimum of 40% representation of women on interview boards and committees
  • Gender-proofing workload distribution models to ensure work is transparently and equitably allocated
  • Developing female talent via the Aurora mentorship programme
  • Outreach to secondary schools to increase participation of the underrepresented gender in their subject


Professor Feely said,

“Diversity is one of the core values in UCD’s strategy, and one of our strategic objectives is the attraction and retention of an excellent and diverse cohort of students, faculty and staff. The Athena SWAN process is central to our ability to deliver on this objective and deliver on UCD’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy”

A further nine Schools and one College in UCD are progressing further Athena SWAN applications.  The University is currently preparing an application to retain the institutional-level Athena SWAN Bronze award that it received in 2017. 

As part of its University-wide consultation and engagement on the theme, Dr Rhona Mahony (UCD Medicine 1994, MD 2005) presented recently to the University on women in leadership.  Dr Mahony is currently Executive Director of the Women’s and Children’s Clinical Academic Directorate within the Ireland East Hospital Group having previously served as Master of the National Maternity Hospital from 2012 to 2018.  Dr Mahony and fellow UCD Medicine alumna, Dr Sharon Sheehan (UCD Medicine 1998, BMedSc 1998) were the first female Masters of the National Maternity Hospital and the Coombe Women’s & Infants University Hospital respectively on their appointments in 2012. 

The School is proud of its long tradition of exceptional leadership demonstrated by female students, staff and alumni.  The first female President of the Medical Council of Ireland is Dr Rita Doyle (UCD Medicine 1973) and the first female President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland is Prof Mary Horgan (UCD Medicine 1986, MD 1995).  Prof Eilis McGovern (UCD Medicine 1978 DipCH 1979) was the first female President in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland’s 226 year history when she was elected in 2010.  This tradition of female leadership looks set to continue with the current auditor of UCD Medical Society (Ms Leah Nash) and the President, UCD Surgical Society (Ms Ellen Geary).

You can find out more about the School’s activities and initiatives in the area of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion here.

About Athena SWAN

Athena SWAN is a gender inclusion charter and awards framework to advance the careers of women in higher education and ensure gender equality and inclusion for all. https://www.ecu.ac.uk/equality-charters/athena-swan/