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Gender equality at UCD

Gender Equality at UCD

UCD is committed to supporting gender diversity, equality and inclusion in the University, receiving its second Athena SWAN Bronze institutional award in recognition of the university’s work towards gender equality. To achieve this accreditation, an institution must demonstrate that it has 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 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.

For more information on how UCD is making progress in gender equality and how you can support UCD in contributing to positive change for everyone, continue reading at 


UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science is proud to have been awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze Award in September 2021.

Our Gender Equality Action plan can be found at SPHPSS Gender Equality Action Plan 2021-25.

We are currently working on our application for an Athena SWAN Silver Award. A number of working groups have been established to lead on the development of key aspects of the application and associated actions. 

These working groups are supporting key topics that are essential to achieving gender equality. Membership of each working group can be found below.

Chairs: Akke Vellinga, Catherine Blake

Project manager: Mary Walsh Admin. Support: Louise O’Brien

Catherine Philips (newsletter contact), Jenny Caffrey (website contact), Anna Scully (student rep recruitment contact)

1. Student Awareness with EDI 2. UG and PGT Student Diversity 3. Academic Progression 4. Recruitment Procedures, New Staff Support, PMS Careers 5. Workload Allocation Model and Family Leave Support 6. Culture and Belonging

Clare Reynolds (Lead)

Patrick Wall

Olive Lennon

Joel Rookwood

Sana Parveen (PG student)

2 x students

Caitriona Cunningham (Lead)

James Timmons

Ruben Collins

Eamonn Delahunt

Keith Smart

Sinead Holden

Mary Codd

David Ryan (Student)

Kate Breslin (Student)

Kate Pumpa (Lead)

Cailbhe Doherty 

Alison Connolly 

Brian Caulfield

Katy Horner 

Cliona O’Sullivan 

Kaat Philippe

Séa Fanning

Tara Cusack (Lead)

Mairead Skinner 

David O’ Dwyer 

Catherine Doody

Nuria Corcoran 

Niamh Merriman

Cian Gaffney

James Matthews (Lead)

Clare Corish 

Sharon Browne

Ross Neville 

Celine Murrin

Aileen Ward

Ricardo Sigurado

Patricia Fitzpatrick (Lead)

Andre Andrijiw

Eleni Theodoraki

Mags Carey 

Tom Fabian 

Katayoun Bahramian

Seamus Kelly 

Aurora Leadership

Aurora is an innovative leadership development training programme aimed at women and those who identify as women which was setup to address the under-representation of women in higher-education leadership roles. It aims to encourage women in academic and professional roles to think of themselves as leaders; to develop leadership skills and to help institutions like UCD optimise the leadership potential of women. The programme is delivered by Advance HE and it provides, in a social learning environment, core and adaptive leadership skills and knowledge over five single non-residential days, delivered over a five- month period. The programme is delivered as a combination of development days; self-directed learning from on-line resources; cross-institutional action learning sets and in-house mentoring.  Each year approximately 20 participants are selected from UCD (4 of which are available to staff in the College of Health and Agricultural Sciences) in a competitive application process.

Six of our staff have been supported by the School and UCD to participate in the Aurora programme since it commenced in 2015.

If you are interested in taking part in Aurora, you can learn more about the programme, view participant and mentor lists and make an application on the People & Organisation Development site. Alternatively, you can contact one of UCD’s Aurora Champions: University College Dublin: (opens in a new window)Joe Carthy, Science Administration Office and (opens in a new window)Joyce McLoughlin, People & OD Manager. 

Previous SPHPSS Aurora participants' testimonials:


Professor Catherine Blake

The Aurora programme provided an opportunity to reflect on what leadership means and my own expectations of leadership.  The programme was excellent and I learned a lot from sharing experiences with other participants. I am especially grateful for the guidance provided by my UCD mentor.

Professor Anne Drummond

The Aurora programme, fellow Aurorans and my mentor, facilitated my finding 'mental' space, and it also provided sparks and prompts, to help me to reflect on my work and on my career in academia.   The value to me of it being a women's programme was the commonality of experience and understanding between participants - there were just so many things where you just didn't have to explain yourself, and so, in that supportive, constructive and confidential environment, self-development took place organically.

Associate Professor Caitriona Cunningham 

Participating in the Aurora leadership programme was a really positive experience and one I would recommend to colleagues, ideally in early career stages. The programme highlighted the value of career mentorship and provided insight into the diverse routes people have  taken to achieve their definition of career success.  Self reflection and development of strategies to navigate work organisations were encouraged. The importance of having strong representation of women in leadership positions and the championing of women by line managers and peers were strong themes which emerged from programme presentations and group discussions. 

Associate Professor Brona Fullen

I participated in the Aurora programme in 2019. It was timely as I was preparing to take on a leadership role and the Aurora programme was exactly what I had been looking for. I found it practical, valuable and worthwhile.

The structure, content and the mentoring system gave me the opportunity to step away from the day to day university work and reflect on what leadership means, what my leadership style is, how my voice is heard and what my impact is.

The supportive learning environment, surrounded by women in similar positions with similar challenges, and listening to inspirational speakers had a positive and lasting impact. Meeting regularly with my UCD mentor before and after the programme also helped keep me focused! I learnt a lot from the AURORA programme - that there are many different styles of successful leadership and that you can be a leader at any career stage when your voice is being heard and you are making a positive impact.

Apply for the Aurora programme…..give yourself the time and space to focus on where you are now and what will help you become an even better leader.

UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science

University College Dublin Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 7777 | E: public.health@ucd.ie