My name is Cameron Keighron (They/Them) and I am in the first year of my PhD programme in NUI Galway. My research focuses on neurodegeneration and electrophysiology; investigating potential therapeutics that target Parkinson’s related dementia.
I am representing NUI Galway and Ireland in the Next Generational Leaders Programme via the Talloires Network of Engaged Universities, a global partnership between 417 university presidents, vice-chancellors and rectors in 79 countries who have committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of their institutions.
Through this programme I, along with 40 other youth leaders across 21 different countries, will explore innovative solutions to key societal and global issues affecting higher education today.
My time with this programme is going to focus on Innovations in Gender Equity where I will explore strategies to address inequalities in opportunity and discrimination due to gender and further highlight the role that gender plays in the policy and practices of our universities.
Gender discrimination has been an issue in higher education, not only in Ireland but around the world. This can create isolating and lonely experiences of navigating education – people like me are not represented in senior roles in higher education.
In this leadership role, I will work closely with people who will help our campus communities understand and contextualise gender inequity throughout our societies, and how this can lead to a lack of opportunity, support and self-worth.
Throughout history, the privileged have celebrated those of us who make it through oppressive systems and institutions as if we’ve beaten the odds to achieve our potential, when equitable access to education could have been created. It feels as though we celebrate minimal gender diversity in our higher education systems because it ticks a box.
This Next Generational Leaders Programme will challenge our prejudices and stereotypes in gender in society, however uncomfortable that may be, recognising that this is not only the right thing to do but it is the thing we should have done years ago.
I am hopeful that this will create a culture of empowerment in universities and among students in advocating for gender equity.