Gender Equality initiative at University College Cork aims for 60:40 gender balance on decision-making bodies

2 Feb 2017
Press Release

Cork, Ireland, February 1, 2017. The gender equality action-research project at University College Cork, GENOVATE, is aiming for 60:40 gender balance on decision-making bodies in the university. This forms one of the 8 actions on gender equality committed to by UCC, each of which targets the underrepresentation of women at senior levels of university life, as low as 16 per cent in some areas. Driving gender balance, a minimum of 40 per cent of each gender on all strategic decision-making boards and committees will in turn capture the knowledge and skills of all experienced staff, enhancing innovation and research excellence.

Dr Caitríona Ní Laoire, School of Applied Social Studies and the GENOVATE leader at UCC comments, “Gender equality must begin in our universities where gender parity among students is not yet reflected at senior levels of university life, limiting research and more broadly, restricting social, economic and cultural progress.”

Kate Moriarty, Deputy President UCC Students Union and a member of the GENOVATE board, commented on the importance of equal representation to all students in the university and the broader impact on society in the future. She said: “When a student sees their gender represented in their lecture theatres, they then have the ability to envision themselves in these leadership positions.”

GENOVATE is part of an EU funded Consortium of seven European universities promoting gender equality. A model of Gender Equality now in place across 7 partner universities in Europe, aims to achieve equal representation of women in research and innovation across all disciplines.. During a four year initiative, GENOVATE has successfully engaged UCC to implement its Gender Equality Action Plan, addressing recruitment, selection and promotion; working environment and culture; and peer review and assessment systems.

To support implementation of these actions, GENOVATE has developed a number of tools, accessible through its online Hub, including measures for strengthening gender balance on strategic decision-making bodies.  GENOVATE has also highlighted the potential benefit of establishing a multidimensional Equality Unit at the heart of the university to drive progress. Many of the highest ranking universities in the world have a structural focal point for equality and diversity.

As envisioned by GENOVATE, a unit dedicated to the strengthening of equality and diversity would advise on the development and implementation of equality actions, connect and pool the university’s knowledge and expertise on equality, and open spaces for everyone within the university to be a player in effecting change for equality.

Dr. Sarah M. Field and Nicola Maxwell, GENOVATE Project Coordinators, “An accountable, accessible and well-resourced structural focal point for equality is a pivotal conduit for sustaining engagement with gender equality at every level of university life by all.  It is, therefore, key to the rigorous implementation and monitoring of the university’s gender equality actions, and ultimately, effecting deeply felt change for gender equality.”


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Cathy Riordan


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GENOVATE Eight Point Action Plan

The GENOVATE eight point action plan addresses recruitment, selection and promotion; working environment and culture; and peer review assessment and innovation systems. The actions involve, amongst others, the integration of gender equality actions and targets in strategic planning processses and outcomes, gender equality monitoring of recruitment, selection and promotion procedures, measures to strengthen gender balance in strategic decision-making bodies, the establishment of a cross-university working group on managing maternity leave and a code of practice on gender equality and research excellence.



GENOVATE is a four-year collaborative European project involving partners in seven European universities. It is an action-research project based on the promotion of a Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP) in each partner university. The project draws on international best practice in supporting interventions in three key areas to promote gender equality in research and innovation: (i) recruitment, progression and research support; (ii) working environment, work-life balance and institutional culture, and finally, (iii) the increasingly important domain of standards and diversity in research excellence and innovation. The project adopts a contextualised approach which is supported by an ongoing knowledge-exchange system within the consortium and by ongoing participatory evaluation, both of which maximise the shared learning of all partners at every step of the process.

GENOVATE is funded by an EU FP7 grant through the Science and Society topic SiS.2012.2.1.1-1 Ensuring equal opportunities for women and men by encouraging a more gender-aware management in research and scientific decision-making bodies.

GENOVATE Consortium

  • University of Bradford (Project Coordinator), UK
  • University College Cork, Ireland
  • Lulea University of Technology, Sweden
  • Ankara University, Turkey
  • Università degli Studi di Napoli, Italy
  • Trnava University in Trnava, Slovakia
  • University of Madrid (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), Spain


Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21)

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