Women continue to be hugely under-represented in leadership, governance, management, and senior academic roles in Ireland’s third-level institutions.

The latest data gathered by the Higher Education Authority shows that across the country's seven universities just 21% of professors are women.

At Institutes of Technology, fewer than a third of senior academic staff are female.

The picture is the same when it comes to those earning the top salaries in the sector.

Across the Institutes of Technology, four out of five of full-time staff earning more than €106,000 are men, while more than 70% of university staff on similar salaries are male. 

This is despite the fact that more women than men work in the third-level sector.

Publishing the data, the HEA pointed to what it called "only small improvements" in addressing the under-representation of women at senior levels in recent years.

It said improvements of the order of between 1% and 2% were marginal and there still existed "a significant lack of representation of women on key decision-making bodies in the institutions, and at senior levels of academic staff".

NUI Galway continues to have the lowest number of women in senior academic roles.

Out of 64 professors at the university, just eight (12%) are women. Men dominate senior academic roles below that of professor too. Just 13% of NUIG's assistant professors, and just a third of its senior lecturers, are women.

At UCC, Trinity College, and Dublin City University four out of every five professors are men.

Female representation at professorial level is only marginally better at UCD and at Maynooth - at 22% and 26% respectively - while the University of Limerick continues to have the highest proportion of female professors at just over 30%.

At all of the universities, men are over-represented at assistant professor and at senior lecturer level too.

The picture is similar when it comes to senior academic staff at the country's Institutes of Technology, with all but two of the institutes showing large disparities between the number of man and women in senior lecturer positions.

Women also continue to be seriously under-represented at governance and management level across the sector.

Among the seven universities, men dominate strongly almost across the board on governing authorities, executive management boards, and academic councils.

The picture is only marginally better across the Institutes of Technology.

Dublin Institute of Technology's ten member executive management team is for instance entirely male.

The Irish Federation of University Teachers has said today's figures are very disappointing.

Incoming General Secretary Joan Donegan said the marginal improvement shown over the past year showed that the issue "requires urgent attention and focus by university management". 

She said that despite widespread and ongoing media attention on the issue, as well as a detailed report and recommendations from a special committee chaired by former EU commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, progress appeared to be occurring at "a snail's pace".  

Ms Donegan said some universities were making no progress, with others even showing a deterioration.

Ms Donegan called for far more determined and proactive initiatives to address discrimination and impediments to women's career progression in academia.