By Ewelina Szybinska
NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery has been awarded an Athena SWAN Bronze Award for their commitment in progressing gender equality through the department and creating cultural change in the University.
Ireland introduced the Athena SWAN Charter in early 2015.
This initiative aims to provide help in addressing gender equality in higher education with the help of funding from the Higher Education Authority.
The figures show that around 10% of undergraduate students in nursing and midwifery are male.
In addition, the 2020 HSE staff report highlights that only 9.5% of nurses and midwives are men.
NUI, Galway has engaged with local secondary schools and the HSE Nursing and Midwifery Professional Development Unit to represent those courses as an opportunity for all.
Furthermore, the University engaged with individuals to improve the understanding behind this department.
This award represents NUI Galway’s strong commitment to promoting equality within courses.
The school undertook initiatives to highlight underrepresentation of men in the discipline and underrepresentation of women at senior grades.
The Athena SWAN Gender Equality Charter was made to provide encouragement and recognition to women’s careers in STEM fields.
Following this achievement, Professor Dympna Casey, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “I look forward to supporting the implementation of our Action Plans to generate an environment where all staff feel they have opportunities to reach their potential irrespective of gender.”
Nurses and midwives make up more than half of the global healthcare workforce, she said, and approximately 90% of nurses are women.
“However, gendered issues continue to impact our professions- for example social gender norms, gender bias and stereotyping hinder women taking on leadership roles, while gender norms, biases and stereotypes also hinder the recruitment of men entering the professions”, said Professor Casey.
The University pursues to promote gender equality in nursing and midwifery.
“We therefore need to address both male under-representation and female progression. This award marks the school’s engagement with both the ‘leaky pipeline’ of female senior leadership, as well as increasing male student intake into Nursing and Midwifery.” she added.
NUI Galway has previously been awarded with School of Medicine Bronze Athena SWAN award.
Professor Tim O’Brien, Executive Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, said: “I am very proud to have the School of Nursing and Midwifery awarded the Bronze Athena SWAN award. This is a clear recognition of our college’s commitment to inclusion and diversity, and to increasing equity in both healthcare education and practice.”
The pandemic proved not to be an obstacle. NUI Galway Vice President for Equality and Diversity, Professor Anne Scott, said: “I am absolutely delighted to hear of the awarding of the Athena SWAN Bronze Award for colleagues in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. To have managed to get the Athena SWAN application successfully completed and submitted was a significant achievement in a really difficult year for many.”