In this section of the training hub, we will explore gender equality, including what it means to be transgender.
In UCC research in this area is carried out by the ISS21 Genders, Sexualities and Families research cluster.
As well as this, there are a number of groups and initiatives that in UCC that focus on gender equality and advocacy, such as the Athena SWAN project, the UCC Women's Network Mná@UCC, Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths WiSTEM, Equal Physics Opportunity Network in Academia EPONA, and UCC student Feminist Society. Additionally the LGBT+ Staff Network and the LGBTQ student society provide supports for trans people.
Below you can find some options for gender-focussed training offered in UCC below that, Gordon Grehan from TENI explores what it means to be transgender and how best to be a trans ally, as well as an excellent fact sheet from Free & Easy, the Uninted Nations group for LGBT Equality.
What is ‘Gender’?
So what is gender? The terms ‘gender’ and ‘biological sex’ have become conflated and are often seen as interchangeable. But they are separate and distinct terms. The World Health Organisation summarises the difference between sex and gender in the following way:
Sex refers to “the different biological and physiological characteristics of males and females, such as reproductive organs, chromosomes, hormones, etc.”
Gender refers to "the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed. The concept of gender includes five important elements: relational, hierarchical, historical, contextual and institutional. While most people are born either male or female, they are taught appropriate norms and behaviours – including how they should interact with others of the same or opposite sex within households, communities and work places. When individuals or groups do not “fit” established gender norms they often face stigma, discriminatory practices or social exclusion – all of which adversely affect health17.” https://www.coe.int/en/web/gender-matters/sex-and-gender
So male, female and intersex refer to biological sex, while “man”, “woman”, “girl”, “boy”, “fluid” or “non-binary” refer to gender.
What is intersex? It is when an individual is born with ambiguous biological sex characteristics, which can range from external to internal, from differences in organ develoment to chromosomal differences to hormonal variation. Some individuals do not find out they are intersex until later in life, for example, when development at puberty does not progress as expected, and some never find out. It is estimated that approximately 1.7% f the global population is intersex, similar to the number of redheads on the planet.
For more info see:
Training & Support
As female representation dwindles as the roles become more senior, efforts to redress the balance are focussed on women in the workplace. In UCC, HR offer the following programmes specifically to female staff in order to try an shift the status quo.
AURORA is the women-only leadership development programme developed by Advance-HE in the UK in response to research which indicated that the level of women in influential and senior positions in higher education is now lower than well over 10 years ago. Advance HE describe it as a 'Female Leadership Ignition' programme.