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The School of Law is committed to ensure equality and respect for diversity across the School and its community, fitting with the priorities of the University’s Equality and Diversity Unit. This includes a commitment to gender equality.


Athena SWAN in the School

In 2018 the School was awarded a Bronze Athena SWAN award recognising its work in identifying and addressing gender equality challenges.

The Athena SWAN Charter recognises commitment shown by Universities and their individual Schools and Departments to gender representation and advancing women’s careers. There are three levels of award; Bronze, Silver and Gold. The Bronze departmental award recognises that a School has a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff.

SWAN supports a number of activities within the School which are part of the School’s Action Plan on Gender Equality. These include an annual Career Development Workshop, mentoring for post-probation staff and postdoctoral researchers, scheduled lunch and coffee meet ups to provide informal support and networking for female staff, an annual ‘Women in Law’ seminar series for undergraduate and postgraduate students, and advancement of female role models within the School for all staff and students in public lectures, visiting scholarships and wider events.


Women in Law: It’s Hard to Be What You Can’t See

In 2018 the School of Law commissioned a new artwork exhibition for the School as part of its ongoing commitment to the Athena SWAN Charter and its recognition of the importance of celebrating the successes of women. This project, titled ‘Women in Law: It’s Hard to Be What You Can’t See’ was created by local artist Susie Rea and coincided the centenary of women’s suffrage and of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which sought to ensure against the disqualification of women.

The brief was to create original artwork to visualise and celebrate women working in all aspects of the law in Northern Ireland, including future generations. The inspiration behind the title of the project – It’s hard to be what you can’t see – was coined by female lawyer and civil rights activist, Marian Wright Edelman, the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi bar.

Working with SWAN Champion, Dr Kathryn McNeilly, Susie Rea asked a number of senior women lawyers, judges, policy makers and academics to write letters to their younger selves, to give advice and encouragement based on their career experiences over the years.  Among those included in the installation – and featured in the accompanying publication – are letters from the Hon. Mrs Justice Keegan, one of the first women appointed to the High Court in Northern Ireland; The Hon. Ms Justice Doherty, CBE, former Judge of the High Court and Court of Appeal of Sierra Leone and Professor Monica McWilliams, former Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

The exhibition also features current undergraduate and postgraduate law students who penned letters to their future selves and are photographed in the exhibition as part of the ‘Women in Law’ student group.

You can visit the art exhibition on Level 2 of the School of Law, outside the Moot Court.


SWAN Career Development Workshop

Each year the School hosts a SWAN Career Development Workshop. The purpose of this event is to provide support for colleagues in their career development across a number of levels including career planning, publication, promotion and profile building. Past speakers at the workshop include Professor Aoife O'Donoghue (Durham Law School), Professor Fiona de Londras (University of Birmingham), Professor Debbie Lisle (QUB School of HAPP), Dr Heather Johnson (QUB School of HAPP), Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh (QUB School of HAPP), Professor Anne-Marie McAlinden (QUB School of Law) and Professor John Morison (QUB School of Law). Images from the inaugural 2017 workshop can be accessed on our Flickr account.


Gender Equality Policy Commitments

Queen’s University Belfast is committed to the promotion of equality of opportunity and to creating and sustaining an environment that values and celebrates the diversity of its staff and student body. A number of policies are in place aimed to enable staff and students to meet their full potential and to be treated as individuals, these include an Equality and Diversity Policy; a Trans Equality Policy; Bullying and Harassment Policy; as well as a range of work-life balance and family leave policies. All these policies can be found on the People and Culture webpage. Information on childcare at Queen’s can be found here.


Queen’s Gender Initiative

Queen’s Gender Initiative (QGI) provides a channel for women’s views on priority issues for women to come to the fore. This forum also acts as a route through which women’s responses to policies, practices and procedures can be made known to senior oganisational managers.

QGI offers a University-wide Mentoring Scheme which has helped over 200 women progress in their professional development in academia. Information on this can be found at the QGI webpage.