Trinity Sport confirmed the appointment of Tanner, who took up the role last month. She was previously Director of Sport and Physical Activity at Trinity College Dublin. She was a member of the FISU Gender Equality Working Group from 2020 to 2023 and is now the first Irish person to hold this position.

Trinity Sport has confirmed the appointment of Michelle Tanner, Director of Sport and Physical Activity at Trinity College Dublin, as Vice-Chair of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Gender Equality Committee.

Tanner is the first Irish person to serve on a standing FISU committee and recently took up her new role at the FISU Gender Equality Webinar. She moderated the session and discussed FISU's work on the issue, including using the UN Gender Equality Guidelines to ensure that FISU has the appropriate policies, procedures, promotions and programmes in place to support women.

She also gave an interesting example of how, for the first time at the FISU Games in Chengdu last summer, countries had two flag bearers for the Parade of Nations, one female and one male.

Tanner was a founder member and former director of Student Sport Ireland. She is also an experienced sports leader who has held prominent roles in Irish and international sports organisations. This includes a term as President of the European Network of Academic Sports Services (2013 - 2017), as documented by Trinity College Dublin. 

She was a member of the FISU Gender Equality Working Group from 2020 to 2023 and co-authored the FISU Gender Equality Review Report, the publication of which in 2023 coincided with the near doubling of female representation on the FISU Executive Committee and its sub-committees. 

Michelle Tanner said: "It is a great honour and privilege to be appointed Vice-Chair of the FISU Gender Equality Committee. By its very nature, university sport plays a key role in the development of future leaders, communities and societies. FISU continues to take concrete steps towards gender equality in its sporting and educational events, as well as in its governance."

"I would like to thank the FISU family for their confidence in me, especially the Gender Equality Chair, Rosaura Méndez Gamboa, my co-author of the Gender Equality Report, Adam Pratchett, Lilia Barieva and the entire FISU Executive Committee and staff, as well as all the support from my colleagues at Student Sport Ireland and Trinity College Dublin. I look forward to working with the FISU Gender Equality Committee to ensure that we achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls", she said.

Matthew Dossett, Assistant Director of Sport and Movement at Trinity College Dublin and President of Student Sport Ireland, commented: "On behalf of the Student Sport Ireland Board and its members, I would like to congratulate Michelle on her appointment to the FISU Gender Equality Committee, which recognises the expertise and contribution that members of the University and College Sport sector in Ireland make in leading and driving change in relation to key governance and cultural challenges affecting sport and society."

"We are delighted that this structure and voice will continue to influence university sport internationally and look forward to supporting Michelle's work and that of the FISU Gender Equality Committee during her term of office," added Matthew Dossett. 

There were two flag bearers, one male and one female, at the FISU Games in Chengdu. GETTY IMAGES
There were two flag bearers, one male and one female, at the FISU Games in Chengdu. GETTY IMAGES

The FISU Gender Equality Committee and the FISU Executive Committee work together. The former advises on appropriate strategies to be developed to encourage, support and enhance the presence of women both on and off the field. These strategies include increasing participation in sports competitions and increasing representation in sports governing bodies.

The aim is to implement the principle of equality between men and women, reflecting the values of university sport and those of our modern society worldwide. At its meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, in March, the FISU Executive Committee ratified the appointment of the seven-member committee, which includes representatives from China, Costa Rica, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey and the United Kingdom, for a four-year term until the end of 2027.