The Charter of the National University of Ireland, granted in 1908, provides that “Women shall be eligible equally with men to be Members of the University or of any Authority of the University, and to hold any office or enjoy any of the advantages of the University.’ NUI thus became the first university in Ireland to guarantee women ‘the full academic and employment equality for which they had been campaigning for over forty years.’ (Senia Paseta, 2008, p. 30)Today on International Women’s Day 2010, NUI salutes and remembers with pride those courageous women whose efforts secured the rights of women in the university and whose later achievements vindicated their struggle:
Mary Hayden, appointed Professor of Modern History in UCD in 1911 and the only woman on the first NUI Senate; Agnes O’Farrelly, Professor of Modern Poetry, also in UCD; Mary Ryan, who became Professor of Romance Languages in UCC in 1910 and was the first woman appointed professor in Ireland or Great Britain; Mary Donovan-Sullivan appointed Professor of History in UCC in 1914; not forgetting their predecessor graduate of the Royal University, Alice Perry, of Galway, the first woman to graduate in engineering in Ireland or Great Britain.
We also celebrate today the academic and other achievements of the many women who have been part of the academic life of the National University of Ireland since 1908, have qualified for its laurels and have contributed to its governance. In the NUI constituent universities and recognised colleges In the NUI today, women outnumber men in the student body at every level except PhD and are well-represented in the academic and administrative staff.
In 2009, the NUI awarded half of the Travelling Studenships to female graduates. However, the chapter on women’s equality in the University is not yet closed: as NUI has pointed out in its submission to the Higher Education Strategy Group ‘the number of females at senior academic and senior management level in Irish universities is still disproportionately low.’
Pašeta, S. (2008) The National University of Ireland 1908-2008 Centenary Essays Dublin: UCD Press
Professor Mary Ryan (courtesy of University Archives, UCC)
Alice Perry (courtesy of NUI Galway)