Promoting Gender equality
Ahead of International Women's Day 2016, we met with Professor Yvonne Galligan, Director of Queen’s Gender initiative and Head of the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, to find out about her role in promoting gender equality within the University.
What is Queen’s Gender initiative (QGI)?
QGI was created in 1999 to address the challenges women faced in pursuing their careers in the University. We work alongside the Equal Opportunities Unit, the Human Resources Directorate, Senior Managers, Faculties and Schools to proactively develop and support policies and practices that promote equal opportunities for women and men. As QGI Director, I report to the Vice-Chancellor on progress and initiatives in this area.
What have been some of the university’s key achievements?
Retaining the Athena SWAN institutional Silver award in 2015 for the third time reinforced Queen’s position as a leader in addressing gender inequalities. Other highlights are: the growing number of women who obtain a professorial position by their 40th birthday; a 100% return rate of women from maternity leave; and the spread of good equality practice across Schools and Directorates.
There has also been a significant increase in the number of portraits of distinguished Queen’s women in the Great Hall. QGI will soon be unveiling two new ones – Professor Ruth Lynden-Bell, FBA and Professor Margaret Mullet OBE.
What is the best bit about your role?
Being able to effect a tangible change of culture in a complex organisation. It’s a real privilege, and gives me a great sense of achievement. It was, and is, not possible to do so without the support of male and female colleagues across the University.
What are some of the challenges?
One is to encourage women to apply for promotion. We have a special interest in seeing more females go for promotion to professor. At the moment women are 22% of professors, just about the national average. Our ambition is to grow this to 30% by 2020. Other challenges include addressing the gender pay gap at professorial level and ensuring women comprise at least 30% of all senior decision-makers by 2020.
What are some of the projects QGI is involved in?
We are expanding the successful QGI mentoring scheme with two new initiatives – a dedicated Mentoring for Leadership scheme in which male and female mentors will nurture upcoming women with leadership potential, and the successful pilot in Higher Education of the 30% Club mentoring programme.
Another key project is ‘Going for Gold’ – preparing the University submission for an Athena SWAN Gold institutional award. Led by Professor Tom Millar, this is a really exciting project to be involved in.
It has brought staff and students together to reflect on how well we facilitate equal opportunities for women and men, and how we can support an environment where diversity is valued.
Why is International Women’s Day important?
IWD provides an opportunity to highlight women’s achievements. It is so important for women’s contribution to be publicly recognised and celebrated.