Introducing the Athena SWAN framework

Documents and Resources


Athena SWAN Resubmission - April 2017

A new University-wide Athena SWAN self-assessment team (SAT) has been established in preparation for a resubmission for an institutional bronze award in April 2017. Expressions of interest were sought from staff and the SAT was selected against a number of criteria to ensure both a gender balance and a requirement for diversity and experience in terms of staff category, grade, working arrangements and leadership.



The role of the SAT is to critically evaluate where the university is regarding gender equality in quantitative (staff and student data) and qualitative terms (policies, practices, systems and arrangements) and create a SMART action plan that builds on this assessment and which embeds the principles of the Athena SWAN Charter in the organisational structure.

The members of the NUI Galway Self-Assessment Team (SAT)

  • Prof. Anne Scott - Vice-President for Equality and Diversity, Chair of Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team
  • Dr Miriam Byrne – Lecturer, School of Physics; Chair, Institute of Physics Juno Committee at NUI Galway
  • Aoife Cooke – Head of Equal Opportunities
  • Dr Claudia Costache - Post Doctoral Researcher, College of Engineering & Informatics
  • Dr Roisin Doohan - Senior Technical Officer, School of Chemistry
  • Dr Catherine Emerson - School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures
  • Dr Yvonne Finn - Lecturer, School of Medicine
  • Dermot Flaherty - Human Resources
  • John Gill - Chief Operating Officer
  • Prof. William Golden - School of Business and Economics
  • Dr Sorcha Gunne - College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies
  • Dr Magdalena Hajdukiewicz - Post Doctoral Researcher, College of Engineering & Informatics
  • Dr Victoria Hogan – Lecturer, School of Health Sciences
  • Dr Sinéad Hynes - Lecturer, Occupational Therapy
  • Adrienne Keane - Information Solutions and Services
  • Dr Valerie Ledwith – Lecturer, School of Geography & Archaeology
  • Prof. Donal Leech - Dean of Science
  • Dr Niall Madden – Lecturer, School of Mathematics
  • Anne Marie McDonagh - Human Resources
  • Aoife McNena - HR Operations Manager
  • Nicola McNicholas – Management Accountant
  • Dr Pat Morgan – Vice-President for the Student Experience
  • Claire O'Connor – Institutional Research Officer
  • Prof. Pól Ó Dochartaigh – Registrar and Deputy President
  • Dr Nathan Quinlan – Senior Lecturer, Discipline of Mechanical Engineering
  • Dr Shivaun Quinlivan – School of Law
  • Dr Ann Ryan – Research Office
  • Prof. Andrew Shearer – School of Physics
  • Prof. Terry Smith - School of Natureal Sciences
  • Clare Walsh - Office of the President
  • Chaosheng Zhang - School of Geography and Archaeology

Regular updates on the assessment will be communicated to all staff and there will be an opportunity for staff to comment on the developing draft application during the drafting process.


In February 2015, Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O'Sullivan TD, officially launched the extension of the Athena SWAN Charter to include Irish universities 


What is Athena SWAN?

Athena SWAN is a Charter and Awards programme co-ordinated by the UK-based Equality Challenge Unit to promote best practice in advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (or STEMM). It has been developed to encourage and recognise commitment to combating the underrepresentation of women in STEMM research and academia. An external evaluation in the UK in 2013 showed a significant impact of Athena SWAN on organisational structure and culture change in the higher education system there.

Access to the Athena SWAN framework was extended to Irish universities in 2015. Securing an award under the Charter involves the development of an institution-wide Action Plan to improve gender equality and diversity, and putting in place appropriate structures to rigorously monitor progress of the Plan's implementation. The Plan itself must be specific to issues faced by the institution. Applications are rigorously reviewed prior to an award being made, and progress is closely monitored afterwards.

What is NUI Galway doing to achieve Athena SWAN recognition?

The University is committed through its Strategic Planning process to develop a range of gender equality initiatives through the international Athena SWAN framework. The University has already signed up to the Athena SWAN Charter. The next step is to obtain an Athena SWAN Bronze award by submitting an institution-wide assessment of gender equality in the University. A Self-Appraisal Team has been appointed to carry out a thorough assessment of our policies, procedures and culture. Part of this assessment involves a staff survey on many issues relating to gender equality, including promotions, training, work flexibility and work culture.

Prof. Andrew Shearer -School of Physics


NUI Galway submitted an unsuccessful application for an Athena SWAN Bronze Award in April 2015, in the first round of awards open to Irish institutions. The Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team received detailed feedback and recommendations from the Equality Challenge Unit that will help prepare for future applications. University Registrar and Deputy President, an tOllamh Pól Ó Dochartaigh, gave his reaction to the results: 

"As Chairman of the Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team, I am writing to update you on the outcome of NUI Galway’s application for an Athena Swan Bronze Award.

Along with four other applications from institutes of higher education and their departments in Ireland, NUI Galway was not successful in achieving the award on this occasion. The Athena Swan  Equality Challenge Unit commended all institutions in Ireland who submitted applications, noting the rigorous nature of the submission process and the “unwavering commitment to gender equality” of all participating institutions.

The submission process has involved a comprehensive and detailed assessment and analysis which has been very beneficial to the University. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all staff for their participation over many months, through their survey submissions, suggestions and feedback. In particular, I commend the members of the Self-Assessment Team who put in many long hours to prepare our comprehensive application.

We welcome the detailed feedback from Athena Swan on the strengths and weaknesses of our application. We will act on the feedback and we are confident that this will help develop and strengthen our application for a future submission.

In tandem with the application process the University developed a detailed action plan to address gender equality and NUI Galway remains committed to the delivery of this action plan.

The attainment of the Athena SWAN Bronze award has been identified as a key priority in the University’s Strategic Plan 2015-2020.

The Athena SWAN framework helps guide best practice in advancing the careers of women in higher education. The awards programme gives recognition to those universities and Higher Education Institutions who demonstrate a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff.

NUI Galway commends the success of our higher education colleagues in UL and TCD in attaining the Athena SWAN Bronze University Award as it adds to the momentum for change regarding gender equality across the sector in Ireland."


The quantitative and qualitative results from the Athena SWAN gender equality staff survey are now available here: Athena SWAN Culture Survey report.

The Self-Assessment Team wishes to thank everyone who participated in this survey. The survey received 964 responses from 653 women and 311 men.


You can read the full Athena SWAN submission online, here: Athena SWAN submission 2015