National University of Ireland Galway has said that 17 of the 20 appeals made regarding staff promotions at the university last year were rejected.  

The appeals relate to the 2013/2014 round of promotions.

NUIG President Dr Jim Browne said that while three appeals were accepted, the grounds for the other 17 appeals were turned down by the University's governing authority.

He was speaking at the announcement of Professor Jane Grimson as chairperson of the University's taskforce on employment equality

Prof Grimson, a former Vice-Provost of Trinity College, is to chair the task force which will advise the university on policies related to achieving gender equality in academic staffing.

She was responsible for the establishment of the Centre for Women in Science and Engineering at Trinity College in 2006.

The task force is being established by the university in response to a recent ruling by the Equality Tribunal, in which it was found that NUIG had discriminated against a female staff member, Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, in a 2008 round of appointments.

More female academics have since come forward claiming they too were discriminated against when applying for senior lectureship positions.

Commenting on the announcement  Ms Sheehy Skeffington said she was glad an independent chair had been appointed, however, she was "disappointed at the lack of any commitment to actual change apparent from the Governing Authority meeting".

Ms Sheehy Skeffington added: "I also want to see an end to the constant litigation against women who are forced into the courts to take their cases."

In a statement, NUIG said it was committed to developing a programme of gender equality initiatives.

Following a meeting of the university's Governing Authority earlier, Chair of the Authority Judge Catherine McGuinness said the under-representation of women in senior positions in society was a complex problem, deeply rooted in historical, societal and culturally-informed attitudes towards women.

She said the challenge of achieving gender equality was not exclusive to the higher education sector.

Teachers' federation expresses concern over task force

The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) has expressed serious concern over the task force appointment, claiming it is being dealt with secretly and without consultation with staff.

IFUT deputy general secretary Joan Donegan said task force membership should be agreed jointly with staff unions and that it must engage directly with staff, to ensure full confidence in, and maximum effectiveness of the process.

Ms Donegan added the announcement of a chairperson was welcome, but said the process of selection "has clearly taken some time and was undertaken without reference whatever to staff in the college or their representatives".

She also stated it was "vital that the college correct this error and follow a consultative approach in selecting the remaining members of the task force".