Archive for January 3, 2020

The Strategic Academic Leadership Initiative Begins

Posted in Education, Maynooth with tags , , , , , on January 3, 2020 by telescoper

I was caught on the hop this morning by the formal announcement that twenty new professorships for women have been created in Ireland. I hadn’t expected this announcement to come so quickly since the idea was only floated in November 2018. There is a piece in the Irish Times about today’s announcement here.

I blogged about this scheme here when it was announced, a little over a year ago. The appointments are to be in areas where there is “clear evidence” of significant under-representation of women, such as physics, computer science and engineering.

I’m delighted that two of these new positions will be at Maynooth University, one in Computer Science and one in Physical Geography (in the area of Climate Science). These areas were selected as being of particularly high strategic priority.

The 20 new Chairs represent the first tranche of positions out of 45 planned under the Strategic Academic Leadership Initiative. I understand there will be two further rounds. I do hope that we might get a position in physics at Maynooth in a subsequent round. I note however that there will be a Professorship in Theoretical Physics at Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. I’ll be sure to pass on the advertisement here when it appears.

Reactions to this scheme among people I know have been very varied, so it seems a good topic on which to have a simplistically binary poll:

For the record, I should state that although I had reservations when about this scheme when it was first announced, largely due to lack of detail about how it was to be implemented, I am now very enthusiastic about it and hope it is successful in its aims.

I will however also repeat that this initiative should not distract attention away from the need for Irish higher education institutions to have much better promotion procedures; see, e.g. here. There are plenty of female academics at lecturer level in Irish universities, but they seem to face serious difficulties getting promoted to Professorships.