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Jack O’Callaghan awarded SSPC Equality, Diversity and Inclusion prize
September 7, 2023

Jack O’Callaghan, University of Limerick was nominated by Rebecca Corbett (Chairperson, Bernal EDI Committee, University of Limerick. This award recognises an individual, group or organisation that has demonstrated exceptional commitment to the promotion or advancement of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

Jack has been involved in  several major EDI initiatives:

In December 2020, Jack O’ Callaghan joined the Equality and Diversity committee of the Department of Physics at the University of Limerick (UL) as a postgraduate representative on the Athena SWAN self-assessment team (SAT). The Athena SWAN charter is a globally recognised framework for the promotion of gender equality in higher education. Jack made significant contributions to a departmental Athena SWAN silver award application, and proactively engaged with SAT subcommittees in the implementation of key inclusion initiatives to promote a culture of EDI within the Department of Physics. Specifically, Jack delivered on two major actions from the Athena SWAN application: the organization of an annual Physics Research Day, and the publication of a bi-annual newsletter. These initiatives provided a sustainable platform for highlighting successes and achievements within the department, as well as affording undergraduate students a constructive and inclusive forum to showcase their research. Jack also played an active role in the design of attitudinal surveys used in the collection of EDI data. The Department of Physics was successfully awarded Ireland’s first ever Athena SWAN silver award in September 2021.

Beyond his commitments with the Department of Physics, Jack has also championed EDI through the research institutions he is affiliated with. In December 2022, Jack was a forming member of the Bernal EDI committee. Through this committee he has been involved in several major EDI initiatives, including (1) the provision of on-site amenities for milk expression, and mental health, and (2) the organisation of social occasions to celebrate cultural and religious events with the broader Bernal community. Jack was instrumental in the design and implementation of the Bernal EDI survey, providing the first ever EDI profile of the institute. Specific actions have been derived from this survey which will address issues surrounding communication, discrimination and accessibility. Jack is similarly involved with the SSPC EDI committee. In conjunction with the development of an SSPC survey, Jack has undertaken a review of EDI training at UL to identify opportunities for continuous improvement.

Jack has acted as a role model for EDI both within and outside of the University of Limerick. In September 2021, at the AGM of the newly formed Inclusion and Diversity society with Engineer’s Ireland (EI), Jack was elected as the inaugural vice-chair and third level liaison officer. Jack led a subcommittee to address the lack of available EDI data surrounding the engineering profession. After an extensive consultation with EI representatives and the Irish Centre for Diversity, a comprehensive survey was devised to collect actionable, engineering- specific EDI data. This survey will be issued in September 2023, and the results will have significant implications for engineering policy and legislation in Ireland. Through the society, Jack has supported the integration of diversity and inclusion into Engineers Ireland events – 54 of the 273 EI events held in 2023 had a diversity component – and actively contributed to EDI resource development. In June 2023, Jack was elected as chairperson of the Inclusion and Diversity society, and hopes to further advance EDI through Engineers Ireland.

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