Congratulations to Clare Hall Life Member, Professor Judith Harford, who has been awarded the Irish Research Council Impact Researcher of the Year Award 2022 for her work in the areas of gender and social class inequalities. Professor Harford completed a Visiting Fellowship at Clare Hall last year, and is Professor of Education and Deputy Head of the School of Education at University College Dublin.
Professor Harford’s research focus is on gender and social class in relation to education, particularly in the Irish context. She has leveraged her scholarship and funded research to expose inequalities in relation to gender and social class, raise awareness of these issues at a national level, and work with policy makers to achieve greater equity in and through education.
The impact of Professor Harford’s research in the Irish context has seen her serve on several committees and working groups of the Department of Education and the Teaching Council of Ireland. Her most impactful public projects include a study into the under-representation of women in senior positions in higher education, which led to a symposium on gender equality in higher education held in the Royal Irish Academy.
Her study into the participation of girls in STEM subjects in DEIS Schools in less advantaged areas led to her being nominated for a Teaching Council ‘Teachers Inspire’ award in 2019 and a runner-up award in the 2021 UCD Research Impact Competition. She is leading a project called Power2Progress, which is providing a dedicated programme to more than 600 senior cycle students in 21 designated disadvantaged schools nationally. It comprises weekly after-school on-site tuition, mentoring, career support and visits to the UCD campus. The focus of the programme is to break the cycle of inter-generational disadvantage, de-mystify higher education and build educational resilience. Power2Progress was the centrepiece of a recent symposium, Rethinking Educational Disadvantage, in the Royal Irish Academy.
On her time at Clare Hall, Professor Harford comments:
Clare Hall represented to me a unique space to think, to read, to write and to reflect in a scholarly community which is inclusive and supportive. The leadership, faculty, students and wider support staff collectively contributed to a warm, collegial environment which places the person at the centre. The College is family-friendly and the accommodation and wider facilities are excellent. The main library and the various archives are all exceptionally well-run and accommodating. Having the opportunity to meet with other Visiting Fellows from diverse disciplines and contexts on a regular basis was also a privilege. The high point of my week was Formal Hall dinner each Wednesday, where I met exceptional people – students, faculty, Visiting Fellows and their guests – and enjoyed the debate, dialogue and laughter, as well as the fabulous food and wine! I count it a privilege to now hold Life Membership of Clare Hall and look forward to returning soon, to rekindle old and to forge new friendships.
Professor Harford writes regularly in the national press on issues relating to education and access, bringing her expertise to a wider audience and shaping the discourse at a national level. She is a member of the Royal Irish Academy Social Sciences Committee and the Public Interest Representative on the Law Society of Ireland Board of Examiners.