29 October 2018

Department of Mechanical Engineering recognised for commitment to promoting gender equality

The Department of Mechanical Engineering has achieved a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of its commitment to promoting gender equality.

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First established in 2005, Athena SWAN encourages and recognises commitment within higher education and research organisations to advance women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM). More recently, it has also expanded to include arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL).

Based on ten key principles, participating Athena SWAN institutions and departments commit to a progressive charter; adopting principles within their policies, practices, action plans and culture that will recognise advancement of gender equality.


I am absolutely delighted that the Department's work has been recognised with this award. Achieving greater equality and diversity in our environment has been an important priority for us and working with the Athena SWAN Charter and applying for the award has really helped to focus our minds on this endeavour.

Professor Neil Sims

Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering


Building on the Department’s previous Bronze award in 2016, the Silver award recognises a significant record of activity and achievement by the Department of Mechanical Engineering in promoting gender equality and addressing related challenges.

Professor Neil Sims, Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering said:

“I am absolutely delighted that the Department's work has been recognised with this award. Achieving greater equality and diversity in our environment has been an important priority for us and working with the Athena SWAN Charter and applying for the award has really helped to focus our minds on this endeavour. It is fantastic to have recognition for the progress we have made so far.”

In order to achieve Silver, the Department was assessed against the Athena SWAN Charter to ensure that women - whether in academic, professional or support roles, or as students - were represented and that their progress into academia or in reaching career milestones was supported.

Melanie Scannell, Athena Swan Champion and Departmental Administration Manager for the Department of Mechanical Engineering said:

“I’m thrilled that we’ve been awarded Athena SWAN Silver as it’s an acknowledgement of the energy and effort that comes from across the Department to create an inclusive environment for both staff and students.

“The award is important as it demonstrates that we are striving to create a place in which everyone can flourish and fulfil their potential, regardless of their gender or personal circumstances. This is important to our prospective students and potential collaborators, as well as our existing staff, students and research partners.”

Work to support equality will not stop with the Silver award, as the Athena SWAN Charter will continue to play a key part in the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s planning and strategy.


The award is important as it demonstrates that we are striving to create a place in which everyone can flourish and fulfil their potential, regardless of their gender or personal circumstances.

Melanie Scannell

Athena Swan Champion and Departmental Administration Manager for the Department of Mechanical Engineering


A live-action plan will ensure an ongoing focus on achieving representation, progression and success for all. This will include plans to increase female representation in undergraduate and postgraduate study programmes, as well as attracting more female research staff to the Department. The plan will also look to ensure equality of opportunity amongst all staff in academic, technical, administrative and research teams.

As Professor Patrick Fairclough, Athena SWAN Champion and Deputy Head of Department adds:

“I'm very proud of all the effort our staff have put into Athena SWAN, they have worked very hard to move us so far in such a short period of time.

“We still have a long way to go to get to the position we’d like to be in as there is still work to do, but I'm looking forward to the next three years; it’s going to be challenging and interesting. And that's what we signed up for.”

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