The School of Agriculture and Food Science (SAFS) has become the first school at University College Dublin (UCD) to receive the prestigious Athena Swan Silver Award.
It is the only school of agriculture in the country to achieve this level of award, having also been honoured as one of the first schools at UCD to achieve the Athena Swan Bronze Award in 2019.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Professor Frank Monahan, dean of agriculture and head of the school, described this swift progress as “significant” for the Belfield campus and the wider agricultural sector.
“When I joined the faculty of agriculture at UCD in the early 1990s, there was one female faculty member, now just over 50% of academic staff are women.
“Our Athena Swan Silver Award is a clear statement that things have changed and that women can now hold roles in the agri-food sector that they would not traditionally have held.
Fifty percent of our students in the school are female now. As these students enter the workforce, they have the opportunity to bring gender balance to all roles, up to the highest level.
“Fifty percent of our students in the school are female now. As these students enter the workforce, they have the opportunity to bring gender balance to all roles, up to the highest level.
“We are seeing this already as women take up key roles at the highest levels in global agri-food companies,” he said.
Trudee Fair – professor of animal physiology and reproduction at the SAFS and co-chair of the school’s self-assessment team – is responsible for preparing the application. She said feedback from the overall Athena Swan journey indicates that “a positive culture of dignity and respect” is now embedded among staff and students.
“I would love to see UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science achieve Athena Swan Gold, but our first priority is to initiate our silver action plan. We have 40 action points to complete in just over three years. The success and impact of our action plan will determine our prospects for gold.”
A proud reputation
Dr Deirdre O’Connor – lecturer in resource economics at the SAFS and current associate dean of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the School – said she foresees many opportunities to embed EDI more deeply across all areas of school activities.
“We are very proud of our reputation within the university, and further afield, as leaders and trailblazers in this area, given that we are the only school within UCD, and the only agriculture or food science school in the country to achieve this level of award.”
Education at the ploughing
Sustainable agri-food systems is the theme for the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science at the National Ploughing Championships 2023.
Over the course of the three days, visitors can hear about the latest developments taking place in research and innovation within the school through a range of live experiments and short talks.
UCD, AgriAware and ASA will once again be co-located for 2023 and together will deliver an exciting programme of talks. Their stand location is block three, row 19 stand 318.
A detailed schedule of activities and talks will be available in advance of the event. Visit ucd.ie/agfood