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School of Engineering Receives Momentous Athena Swan Accreditation

15 January 2024

Dundalk Institute of Technology is absolutely thrilled to report that their School of Engineering was recently awarded the extremely prestigious Bronze Athena Swan accreditation. Whilst DkIT was previously awarded the Bronze Athena Swan on an Institute level, this is a phenomenal achievement for the School of Engineering, which is the first Athena Swan School specific award for DkIT. 


This application was led by Dr Breda Brennan, Head of School of Engineering, who was only appointed to this position in the last 12 months. Dr. Brennan worked closely with the DkIT EDI Office and a Self-Assessment Team comprising of 13 staff members from the School of Engineering.  There are a very limited number of Institutes within Ireland who hold this Engineering specific Bronze Athena Swan accreditation, they include Trinity College, University of Limerick and in the Technological University sector only Carlow IT (now SETU) has previously been bestowed this award.

The Athena SWAN charter is a framework that is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality in higher education and research. The charter launched in Ireland in 2015 with a specific remit to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment. The charter has since been expanded to include arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL) and staff working in professional, managerial and support roles (PMSS). The framework also now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, including consideration of the experience of trans staff and students, as well as the underrepresentation of men in particular disciplines.

With female engineers representing just 12% of the profession in Ireland, along with the latest data from the Higher Education Authority indicating that only 23% of engineering graduates are female, the School of Engineering in DkIT attaining this Athena Swan Bronze accreditation is a step in the right direction for the Institute to help address these national statistics and support female engagement within this highly in demand industry.

Dr Breda Brennan, Head of School of Engineering said,

“Having worked in higher education for 30 years, I have a strong interest in providing educational opportunities for all. As the new Head of School of Engineering I am committed to facilitating and driving cultural and structural changes which will remove any barriers to equality, diversity and inclusivity for both students and staff”.

As part of the School of Engineering’s commitment to the Athena Swan accreditation they will focus on several key priority areas to improve female engagement in the field of engineering. These key tasks will include, proactively increasing the intake of undergraduate and postgraduate female students into the School of Engineering. Another key priority they will endeavour to uphold is to ensure that female students have an equal opportunity to succeed on Engineering programmes. DkIT will also continue to work closely with primary and secondary schools in the region to encourage and facilitate females to select programmes and careers in Engineering, including apprenticeships.

The Institute will also make certain to provide equal opportunities for female applicants for staff positions in the School and to increase the proportion of females on academic and technical support staff. The School of Engineering hope to ultimately create a culture of inclusivity and equality in the School for both staff and students therefore increasing female graduates and engagement within this ever evolving and in demand industry.

Dr Brennan added

“I’d also like to extend my sincere thanks to all the Self-Assessment Team who supported me in this application who included, Ciara O’Shea, formerly DkIT EDI Officer, Orlagh Devine, School of Engineering Administrator, Gerard Galligan, Head of Section of Engineering Trades (Electrical and Motor Mechanics), Paul MacArtain, Head of Department of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering, James Connolly, Senior Technical Officer for the School of Engineering, Gareth Kelly, Lecturer, Dept of Engineering Trades and Civil Engineering, Antoinette Rourke, Lecturer, Dept of the Built Environment and lecturers from the Dept of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering: Maryellen Kelledy, Peter Ryan, Sinead Kelly, Catherine McCloskey, Kimmitt Sayers, Rauri McCool and Paul Durcan. Thanks also to the many students who participated in and contributed to the self-assessment”.

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