Athlone IT receives prestigious for work to advance gender equality

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anet Owens, Projects Officer, AIT; John McKenna, VP for EDI, AIT; Louise Doherty, HR Generalist, AIT; Dympna Fitzgerald, Business Intelligence and Development Unit Manager, AIT.

anet Owens, Projects Officer, AIT; John McKenna, VP for EDI, AIT; Louise Doherty, HR Generalist, AIT; Dympna Fitzgerald, Business Intelligence and Development Unit Manager, AIT.

Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) has received a prestigious award in recognition of its work to advance gender equality in higher education and research.

The institution received the Athena SWAN Bronze Award.

AIT submitted its application for the award in January 2021, which included a detailed self-assessment of gender equality and a comprehensive action plan for promoting positive culture change.

A self-assessment team, with representatives drawn from across the institute, was established to carry out the work two years ago, under the guidance of AIT's EDI Steering Committee, which is chaired by AIT President Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin.

“We are delighted to receive the Athena SWAN Bronze Award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality across higher education,” John McKenna, Vice President for Equality and Diversity at AIT, said.

“Academia cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of all. Our ambitious action plan will ensure that we are continuously striving to create an inclusive culture where all staff can thrive."

“This award is a testament to the work that has been carried out right across the institute and reaffirms to our commitment to the Athena SWAN principles of equality and inclusion," AIT President Professor Ó Catháin said, congratulating members of the EDI Steering Committee and Self-Assessment Team.

"This award will drive us forward into the new technological university, ensuring that we are fully equipped to develop the university as a leader in EDI. We look forward to the next phase our Athena SWAN journey and continuing to roll out our ambitious gender equality action plan.”

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris welcomed news of the awards, calling the attainment of Athena SWAN accreditation "a significant step forward for gender equality" in higher education. 

Dr Victoria Brownlee, Head of Athena SWAN Ireland, added that progress on gender equality right across higher education is essential for retaining talent and ensuring our institutions at all levels are representative of society.

“It is very encouraging to see so many applicants engage in improvements to support the spectrum of staff roles in the sector,” she said.

The Athena SWAN Charter launched in Ireland in 2015 with a specific remit to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM).

This charter has since been expanded to include arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL) and staff working in professional, managerial and support roles (PMSS).

Athlone Institute of Technology is a research-led third-level institute with an applied, industry-focused offering, world-class research and development capabilities, and state-of-the-art facilities. Winner of The Sunday Times Institute of the Year 2020 and 2018, AIT is Ireland’s top-ranked institute of technology and is on track to open its doors as the country’s third technological university in September 2021. AIT tops Ireland’s official league table for research and was listed in U-Multirank’s Top 25 Performing Universities in the World for Interdisciplinary Research in 2018 and 2019. For information relating to AIT’s undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, visit www.ait.ie.