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As Chair of UCC's Athena SWAN Steering Group, it is my very great pleasure to welcome you to these pages.
More than a century has passed since Mary Ryan was appointed Professor of Romance Languages at Queen's College Cork, the first woman to be university professor in Ireland or Great Britain. Today in UCC, women among our professoriate number 41 - a remarkable change since Professor Ryan's day, but a number that still represents just 27% of our professoriate as a whole. There remains a challenge as although women and men are fairly evenly represented among our lecturers, progress in improving the representation of women at more senior academic grades has been slow. This is not just a feature of University College Cork but across the university and higher education sector, in Ireland and internationally.
Increasing the rate of change requires sustained and committed interventions, and in UCC we are proud to endorse the Athena SWAN charter and to commit to removing barriers to women's progress in academia. Athena SWAN promotes diversity in leadership in higher education. For diverse and underrepresented groups to thrive, however, we need to foster a culture that acknowledges and celebrates the contributions and achievements of everyone in the university community, including those who are underrepresented.
It is in this spirit of celebration that we welcome you to "Meet our Professors".
In these pages, many of UCC's women professors reflect on how their careers and research interests evolved. Although some common themes emerge, each person's experience, and her perspective on it, is unique, insightful and valuable. The profiles in these pages make for fascinating reading, and I thank my colleagues for participating in the initiative and invite you to browse, read and enjoy our stories.
Professor Caroline Fennell, 17th January 2018