A newly formed group of academics says a requirement for university staff to pledge their commitment to “gender ideology” is a threat to freedom of speech.
Universities in Ireland are required to participate in the Athena Swan charter to become eligible for State research funding, under rules overseen by the Higher Education Authority.
Dr Tim Crowley, a lecturer at UCD’s school of philosophy and member of the group, said the principles of the charter were “politically and philosophically contentious”.
“Every single participant in the Athena Swan scheme in Ireland has thus committed, or has been committed, to embracing and promoting gender ideology,” he said.
Yet, he said, the Universities Act states that academic staff shall have the freedom to question received wisdom, put forward new ideas and state controversial or unpopular opinions, without suffering any disadvantage.
Dr Crowley said the issue was less about the politics of the principles, but rather the “demand for commitment and pledging is itself the problem”.
Dr Crowley said Athena Swan “boasted” in its literature that the decision of funding bodies to tie eligibility for research grants to holding one of its awards was “an effective ‘stick’” to force universities to apply for such awards.