Former EU commissioner and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn is to chair a five person panel that will carry out a national review of gender equality among staff in higher education.
Ms Geoghegan-Quinn was named by the Higher Education Authority to lead the review into gender profiles and equality policies currently in place in all third level institutions.
It comes amid increasing concern over the lack of women in leadership roles.
The panel is due to report back within 12 months.
Ms Geoghegan-Quinn served as European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science from 2010-2014 and was a TD for Galway West from 1975 to 1997
In 1979, she became the first female Cabinet minister in the history of the State and served in a number of ministerial roles, including as justice minister.
Announcing the review, HEA Chief Executive Tom Boland said: "The review will take as its starting-point an analysis of the current position in higher education in Ireland in respect of gender-equality, examining this across all grades of staff (including administrative staff), and it will examine the reasons for continuing gender-inequality among staff across the sector.”