J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at University of Galway is delighted to have been awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze Award.  We are very pleased that ours represents the first application from a non-STEM school in University of Galway. Athena SWAN Bronze Award Logo

This award follows an assessment by Advance HE and recognises our progress on, and our commitment to, gender equality, inclusivity, and diversity and for providing opportunities for all staff and students, in a supportive environment. This Award has helped us improve our culture, our environment for research and teaching, scholarship and learning, student diversity, curriculum development around the UN Sustainable Development Goals, recruitment, retention and promotion of female colleagues. Reviewing, questioning and establishing good working practices around recruitment, induction, representation, staff training and development, progression, leave and flexible working are all part of an Athena SWAN submission.

It is a key part of the School’s, and indeed the University’s, strategy to embed equality, diversity and inclusion across everything we do. Professor Anne Scott, Vice-President for Equality and Diversity, said; “In University of Galway we are working at institutional, college and school levels to ensure that our knowledge of these principles informs our policies and practices through instruments such as the Gender Equality Action Plan and our Equality Impact Assessment tool. Achieving Athena SWAN accreditation (bronze, silver or gold) is an important symbol of our commitment at institutional and college/school levels to increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in our culture and work environment.

“As we prepare our institutional application for reaccreditation in April 2021 the heartening news of the achievement of an Athena SWAN Bronze award for SBE over the summer, the first Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Business and Law (AHSSBL) School to achieve this in University of Galway, is exactly the good news we need to help colleagues redouble efforts and strive to be the best we can as a community in the EDI arena! Well done J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics!”

We established a team with 20+members that meet regularly to guide action within the School, including representation from both academic and professional service staff. This collective effort demonstrates the commitment to make positive cultural changes for all members of staff and students and represents a key milestone for us at an important stage in the University’s commitment to further gender equality in the policies and practices across our School and within our College and University community.

Former Head of School Dr Tom Acton said “Our Athena SWAN team worked extremely hard on the submission but I would particularly like to mention the team’s joint chairs, Dr Shivaun Quinlivan and Prof Willie Golden, for their enthusiasm and leadership on this task.”

Dr Quinlivan and Prof Golden commented “As co-chairs of the Athena Swan self-assessment team (SAT) it was our privilege to lead a team of 25 dedicated people on the SAT. We are particularly proud of the commitment and dedication of the SAT to deliver such a detailed and complete application, all the more commendable as it was done during Covid-19 when all members were working remotely. In addition, we were heartened by the commitment shown by all members of the school to the Athena Swan process.

This award recognises the School's ongoing commitment to equality, and through our four-year action plan the School will build on that commitment to ensure a more inclusive culture where all staff and students feel valued, welcomed, and supported.  We join a small yet prestigious group of University Business Schools with an Athena SWAN Bronze award.”

This award recognises the School’s commitment to implementing a four-year action plan to ensure an inclusive culture where all staff and students feel valued, welcome, supported and integrated, and have equal access to opportunities. After two years of data gathering, gap analysis and self-assessment we look forward to implementing the changes that working towards the Athena Swan award has highlighted to us. 


Background to Athena Swan

The Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) Charter is the internationally recognised quality mark for gender equality in higher education.

The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) in higher education and research.

In May 2015 the Charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The Charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly not just barriers to progression that may affect women and the charter is based on ten key principles.

Athena SWAN is awarded by the Advance HE, Equality Challenge Unit and the award is for four years. The submission was prepared and submitted by the School’s Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team. Athena SWAN awards are available in Bronze, Silver and Gold at both institution and departmental level. Find out more here about Athena SWAN.


Read the full press release for more information on this exciting award


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NUI Galway