Department recognised for commitment to promoting gender equality

The Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology has been awarded a Silver Athena SWAN award, highlighting staff's ongoing commitment to promoting gender equality.

The awards celebrate the dedication of departments and their Athena SWAN teams to grow as ambassadors for gender equality in the higher education sector. They also recognise the sustained efforts of colleagues to promote progress and overcome barriers to inclusivity, both for colleagues and for students.

Athena SWAN team

Molecular Biology and Biotechnology's award makes them the second University of Sheffield science department to earn silver, after Animal and Plant Science achieved the status in 2013. It is an upgrade from the bronze award the department was awarded in 2014 alongside our Biomedical Science, Chemistry, Mathematics and Statistics, and Physics and Astronomy departments.

“This Silver award reflects the continuing culture change within our department as we work towards making MBB a truly welcoming and inclusive place to work and study.”

Dr Rob Fagan, Athena Swan Champion, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Professor Alastair Goldman, Head of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, said: "We are thrilled to be taking part in the Athena SWAN accreditation process. It has without doubt helped us to recognise the gender imbalance in science and to understand to some degree why it exists and how we can readdress the imbalance.

"Since first receiving our Athena SWAN bronze recognition in 2013 we have worked very hard on our action plan, and as we move forward we have been addressing much broader issues of equality and diversity.

"We are delighted that this hard work has now been recognised with an Athena SWAN silver award, and we look forward to further improvements in the coming years."

Two other science departments are continuing to work on their Athena SWAN submissions. Mathematics and Statistics are aiming to be upgraded to silver, and Physics and Astronomy are hope to have their bronze award renewed.

Professor John Greenlees, from the Mathematics and Statistics Athena SWAN team, said: "For us, the Athena SWAN project is about two things, closely linked. Firstly it is about having a pleasant and inclusive working environment and secondly it is about improving the gender balance at all levels, from academic staff, through research staff and PhD students to undergraduates.

"Gender balance in the mathematical sciences is a matter of national concern, and our own Athena SWAN submission is an opportunity to calibrate our own efforts against a national benchmark.

"Athena SWAN is an excellent way to focus attention and energy on these important issues; a step towards a better environment and a way of harnessing the talent of a range of people."

Professor David Mowbray, Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: "As a department we are committed to providing a working environment where all staff and students can thrive. We have made many positive changes over the last five years and will continue and expand our actions as we move forward.

"Our goal is to be a leading physics department in the area of equality and diversity, an exemplar that other departments aspire to."

About Athena SWAN

The Athena SWAN Charter celebrates success in advancing gender equality in higher education and research. It rigorously examines the steps taken by universities and their departments to improve representation, encourage progress and combat gender-based discrimination.

Our continued success under the Charter, shown by this latest set of awards, is a welcome reminder of how important gender equality is to people across our University.

From May 2015 the Charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law as well as professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students.

The Charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

Find out more about Equality and Diversity in our department.