GENOVATE at University College Cork highlights potential positive impact of a central equality unit

7 Dec 2016
Press Release

Cork, Ireland, 7th December 2016. GENOVATE at University College Cork (UCC), an action-research project for gender equality, part of an EU funded Consortium of seven European universities, has highlighted the potential benefit of establishing a multidimensional Equality Unit at the heart of the university setting. The GENOVATE team developed a model incorporating an eight-point action plan to increase the representation of women at senior levels, enabling the true pool of talent across all disciplines and enhancing research excellence in Ireland through diversity.

With the GENOVATE Model of Gender Equality in place across 7 partner universities, the aim is to achieve equal representation of women in research and innovation across all disciplines.  Many of the highest ranking universities in the world have a structural focal point for equality and diversity.

The HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Higher Education, published earlier this year, includes recommendations for structures to provide leadership on gender equality across the sector, for example, the appointment of a vice-president for equality and the establishment of an academically-led gender equality forum in each HE institution.

Dr Caitríona Ní Laoire, School of Applied Social Studies and the GENOVATE leader at UCC comments, “Leadership of a university’s senior management in driving an agenda for gender equality is crucial. Without this, change is not possible. At the same time, universities need to create the spaces for staff and students at all levels in an organisation to be part of the process of change. For gender equality measures to be meaningful, there has to be a sense of shared ownership by all stakeholders.”

According to Kate Moriarty, Deputy President UCC Students Union who sits on the GENOVATE board, “Gender Equality has traditionally been a big topic of interest and passion for UCC Students' Union, with both binary and non-binary genders. Through the implementation of programmes like GENOVATE in UCC, students will benefit from the equality within the University and the broader impact that will make on society in the future. When a student sees their gender represented in their lecture theatres, they then have the ability to envision themselves in these leadership positions.”

Kate Moriarty was part of the Irish delegation attending the GENOVATE International conference, Towards 2020, held in Brussels this November with a focus on the GENOVATE Model. She joined members of the GENOVATE team.

 Participation is key to the GENOVATE Model of implementation. It was developed to support universities and research organisations taking action to achieve gender equality. The model is based on the findings of a four-year collaborative European project across the seven partner European universities. Central to the GENOVATE Model is the idea that stakeholder engagement from both the top-down and the bottom-up are crucial for meaningful and sustainable organisational change for gender equality. The GENOVATE Model for effecting structural change for gender equality provides a framework for implementation in five steps: investigate, plan, act, outcome, reflect.

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.”

GENOVATE has recommended that an implementation plan be developed with a view to establishing such a unit.

The GENOVATE Hub recently launched with the aim of enabling engagement across the university to support the implementation of the Gender Equality Action Plan, investigated and developed by the interdisciplinary GENOVATE team at UCC over a four year period.


- ends -


Media Contact:

Cathy Riordan


Mob - +353 87 418 2422


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)

Top Floor, Carrigbawn/Safari Building, Donovan Road, Cork, T12 YE30