Pictured are Professor Don Barry with the SOC 2008 recipients Katie Ryan and Colette Sexton and Professor Pat O'Connor who established the bursaries.
Professor Don Barry, President of the University of Limerick, presented Bursaries (valued at €1,500 each) to two First Year students on the Degree in History, Politics, Sociology and Social Studies on the basis of their Leaving Certificate points. The recipients are Katie Ryan, The Square, Kilrush, Co Clare, and a past pupil of St Michael's Community College Kilmihill Co Clare; and Colette Sexton, Doonogan, Mullagh, Ennis, Co Clare, and a past pupil of St Joseph's Secondary School, Spanish Point, Co Clare. The awards - the SOCs -were created by Professor Pat O Connor, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science at UL, in 1997 in memory of her mother and to celebrate her appointment as the first woman at full Professorial level in the University of Limerick.
Speaking at the presentation, Pat O'Connor said that it was a pleasure to recognise that there were now five women at full Professorial level, constituting 14% of those at that level in the University of Limerick (the national average being 10 %). "It is obvious that there is still a very great distance to go before we reach a situation where men and women were equally involved in the creation and dissemination of knowledge," said Professor O'Connor.
A Professor of Sociology and Social Policy, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Pat O' Connor said that these young women, as students of the Social Sciences, were uniquely placed to understand the changing nature of our society. As a woman, and as a frequent beneficiary of bursaries herself, Pat O'Connor said that she was delighted to applaud the academic excellence of these young women. The initials SOC were those of her late mother, Sheila O'Connor, a graduate of University College Cork at the time the Marriage Bar was introduced in the 1930s. Professor O'Connor said that she looked forward to a day when the loss to society, consequent on the perpetuation of a University system that remained hierarchically and numerically male dominated, would be recognised.
"It is inconceivable that the imbalances between men and women as creators of knowledge could continue - all the more so because women now make up half of the undergraduates and postgraduates nationally. However, in the event that these trends do continue, I have asked the two young SOC bursary recipients, to remember this day, thirty years on, and to try to find some way of encouraging a new generation of young women, and so on and on until these patterns changed," concluded Professor O'Connor.