RCSI is committed to equality between women and men, and the right of all members of our community to be treated equally regardless of gender identity and gender expression.

PROGRESS Women In Surgery

In 2017, RCSI published a comprehensive report PROGRESS: Promoting Gender Equality in Surgery, which highlighted that despite more than 20 years of gender parity among medical graduates, female consultant surgeon numbers in Ireland remain low. RCSI sought to make meaningful recommendations that could ensure surgery as a profession is an attractive and practical career for both men and women. This led to the establishment of the PROGRESS Women in Surgery Fellowship. 

The fellowship, which is funded by Johnson & Johnson, is a prestigious bursary awarded by RCSI to promote female participation in surgical training at fellowship level, that we hope will in turn support the acquisition of additional surgical skills and knowledge that will contribute to the advancement of surgical science and practice in the island of Ireland. The first Fellowship was awarded to Dr Ailin Rogers in 2019. More information on the PROGRESS Women in Surgery Fellowship is available here.

Association of Women Surgeons Ireland

In 2018, RCSI partnered with the Association of Women Surgeons to host the first Women in Surgery meeting in Ireland. Over 100 people attended this inaugural event. A student Women in Surgery group was established in 2019 and the Association of Women Surgeons was formally launched in January 2021.

Women in Surgery Africa (WiSA)

In 2015, RCSI supported the establishment of Women in Surgery Africa (WiSA) across 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. RCSI continues to support an annual bursary for WiSA through the RCSI COSECSA Collaboration Programme. There are now hundreds of WiSA members across the region who benefit from training, mentorship and career development opportunities.

30% Club Women in Leadership Scholarship programme

In 2018, RCSI Graduate School of Healthcare Management, in collaboration with the 30% Club, announced the Women in Leadership Scholarship programme, offering scholarships for its MSc in Leadership and Professional Diploma in Clinical Leadership. The scholarships reflect RCSI's commitment to promote greater gender diversity in healthcare as well as the critical importance of effective and impactful leadership in healthcare.

The scholarships are supported by the 30% Club, a global movement committed to better gender balance at all levels of organisations, fostering greater representation of women at executive levels of business and large organisations. By 2020, 11 female leaders had completed this scholarship programme.

Women in leadership programme

In 2015, RCSI partnered with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) and committed to supporting female staff to join the leadership programme. To date, a significant number of staff members have completed an in-house leadership development programme which has been beneficial on both a personal and organisational level.

To further support the progression of female staff, the University has sponsored female staff members to attend the Aurora programme, a dedicated women’s leadership programme. Aurora is for women up to senior lecturer level or professional services equivalent in a university or higher education college, ambitious for a career in the sector and interested in exploring leadership and management as one option for progression.

Aurora addresses core areas associated with leadership success:

  • Understanding organisations and the sector
  • Developing leadership behaviours, skills and knowledge
  • Identifying and overcoming barriers and obstacles
  • Growing confidence and a leadership identity
  • Building networks, coalitions and support processes

In 2016, RCSI launched the Emily Winifred Dickson Prize which recognises women who have made an outstanding contribution to their field. Emily Winifred Dickson (FRCSI) broke boundaries when she became the first female Fellow of RCSI in 1893, and thereby the first female Fellow of any of the surgical royal colleges in Britain and Ireland.

To date, a number of inspiring women have received the Emily Winifred Dickson Prize: Prof. Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of University of Oxford; Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former United States Ambassador to the United Nations; Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia, Africa’s first female head of state and Nobel Peace Laureate; and Dr Karen DeSalvo, Google Chief Health Officer.

Emily Winifred Dickson Award winner Mary Robinson

RCSI Women’s Network

In 2017, RCSI Aurora Leadership Development Programme participants came together to form the RCSI Aurora Women’s Network. The network was expanded in 2021 and renamed the RCSI Women’s Network and operates to promote and support the professional development of all women and non-binary staff at RCSI. To find out more contact

International Women's Day (8 March) is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognised for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. RCSI celebrates this event on an annual basis.

RCSI celebrates International Men's Day (19 November) on an annual basis, with topics including a focus on men's and boy's health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models.

International Mens Day 2018

RCSI launched a Gender Identity and Expression Policy in April 2018. RCSI supports the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI)'s vision of an Ireland where trans people are understood, accepted and respected, and can participate fully in all aspects of Irish society. TENI, which seeks to improve conditions and advance the rights and equality of trans people and their families, has delivered 20 workshops to over 550 RCSI staff and students by 2021.

Gender identity and expression policy launch 2018

Gender Identity and Expression Policy PDF | 2139.5 KB

In 2019, RCSI, Accenture and Business to Arts unveiled a series of new portraits of historical female leaders in healthcare at RCSI. Women on Walls at RCSI in partnership with Accenture recognises the pioneering achievements of a group of eight extraordinary women and aims to enhance the visibility of historical female leaders in healthcare to inspire future generations. The portraits now hang in the Board Room of RCSI’s historic building on St Stephen’s Green.

The following artists have completed their commissions, creating a series of eight individual portraits:

Artist Subject
Benita Stoney Dr Margaret (Pearl) Dunlevy (1909 - 2002)
Catherine Creaney Dr Barbara Maive Stokes (1922 - 2009)
Enda Griffin Sr Dr Maura Lynch (1938 - 2017)
Mick O’Dea Dr Emily Winifred Dickson (1866 - 1944)
Mick O’Dea Dr Mary Somerville Parker Strangman (1872 - 1943)
Molly Judd Dr Victoria Coffey (1911 - 1999)
Molly Judd Dr Mary Josephine Hannan (1859 - 1936)
William Nathans Dean Mary Frances Crowley (1906 - 1990)

To see the portraits and learn more about our Women on Walls visit our dedicated website and watch our video below.

Watch video