The office for Equality and Diversity was established in NUI Galway in 2016. Professor Anne Scott has been responsible for leading and promoting all aspects of equality and diversity throughout the University.
What are the implications of Equality, Diversity, Inclusion for the future of higher education?
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is essential for the future of higher education, both in terms of ensuring that the sector meets a number of its civic, social and economic goals but also in terms of the sustainability of the institutions that underpin higher education.
In many ways failing to recognise the importance of things like Equality, Diversity and Inclusion would mean that higher education institutions were simply failing in meeting those social goals.
It should be a core focus in ensuring that we actually do work for the public good and do contribute, not only to economic development, but also to social and cultural and community development.
How are we performing as a university that has made a very specific commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion?
We are, as the President frequently states, on a journey.
I think the broader Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda has become more salient over the last probably two or three years and is now very much articulated in our new strategic plan.
Some elements we are performing reasonably well. We did start from a position of having a very difficult history in terms of gender equality. I think there’s still lots of work to be done in that area, but I think we can definitely see progress.
In terms of the broader diversity and inclusion agenda, however, there is still a lot of work to be done, including getting just a very basic profile of our institution, in terms of things like our ethnic diversity.
We need that very, very acutely.
Inclusion for me is very important because, in a sense, in order to enable diversity to work for everyone, the individuals involved, the institution, etc, we need to be inclusive, we need to ensure that people are given a voice.
We all look back now in kind of amazement at the idea of no female loos along the corridor in the science department.
There will be bumps along the way but I think things like our strategic plan and our EDI strategy and things more broadly like public sector duty will support us as we move forward – assuming that we are willing to embrace them, the NUI Galway community needs to be ready to embrace them.
I think, very often, students provide the lead, for us. That’s very much what happened around our gender identity policy.
We certainly could be performing better and will be as our understanding grows.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – these three words have become more combined as a single idea. What is the additionality of Diversity and Inclusion to existing theories of Equality?
I have some concerns about the notion that the three concepts – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – have combined to form a single idea. And if they have combined I’m not entirely sure I’m comfortable with what that single idea is.
Go back to the French revolution, the American revolution. This notion of equality has been a concept. Go back to the suffragist movement. Go back to Mary Wollstonecraft, in terms of women’s rights … heaven knows, we still have enormous issues in trying to get to grips with what we mean by equality.
We’re all saying the words together as if they mean one thing. That’s not necessarily helpful. Diversity can be really, really rich and helpful, but unless it’s enabled it can be fragmenting and disruptive and alienating.
The common exemplar used is that Diversity is having been invited to the dance, Inclusion is actually having somebody ask you to dance.