University awarded for commitment to gender equality

Athena Swan awardsCommitment to gender equality and career progression for women in Science, Engineering and Medicines at the University of Sheffield has been further reinforced with a glowing endorsement from a champion for female researchers.

Five departments were recognised with new awards by the Athena SWAN Charter – which recognises commitment to advancing women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

The University’s School of Medicine was given a silver award for its achievement and hard work promoting gender equality.

The University’s Department of Computer Science, the Department of Human Communication Sciences, the Department of Materials Science Engineering and the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering have all been given a bronze award which recognises a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff. The University has retained its overall bronze award for the institution.

Professor Mike Hounslow, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said: "We believe that there are far too few female engineers. We can make a big difference to that both by attracting more women to study engineering and by being an outstanding employer of female engineers. These Athena Swan awards give us confidence that we are moving in the right direction."

Professor Tony Weetman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health, said: "We're delighted at the success of our Medical School and the Department of Human Communication Sciences in gaining Silver and Bronze awards respectively. This news highlights the hard work we're doing throughout the Faculty, so that it becomes an excellent place for women to work and progress to the highest levels in our field."

Sheila Francis, Head of the Department of Cardiovascular Science and leader of the successful Medical School application said: “Our silver award celebrates all the good work that has gone in to improving the career paths of women in clinical and non-clinical academic medicine over the past several years through mentoring, better support and crucially, through improving the visibility of role models. There is still more work to do and I look forward to a time when such efforts will not be required.”

The awards will be presented at an awards ceremony to be held at Imperial College London in November 2013.

The Athena SWAN Charter evolved from work between the Athena Project and the Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN), to advance the representation of women in science, engineering and technology (SET) and currently there are 179 award-holding institutions and departments.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield said: "The University of Sheffield has worked for many years to improve the career prospects of academic women.

“We already have a University level Athena Swan plan, we have established a thriving Women’s Network, more mentoring programmes, women only training sessions, a photographic exhibition of successful females from across the University, a Faculty Director for Women in Engineering and a Women In Engineering group tasked specifically with leading initiatives to improve the representation of women at all levels, from Under-graduate right up to Professor level. Heads of Department understand that the attraction and retention of female talent is a high priority, and each faculty now has an Equality and Diversity committee.

“However, we recognise there is more to do. The progression of female academics is a significant part of creating a University culture that is inclusive at all levels. We have been working with our Equality and Diversity Board, and with stakeholders from across and outside of the University, to develop equality objectives that will transform our approach to inclusion, and ensure everybody feels valued and supported.”

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With nearly 25,000 of the brightest students from 117 countries coming to learn alongside 1,209 of the world’s best academics, it is clear why the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading universities. Staff and students at Sheffield are committed to helping discover and understand the causes of things - and propose solutions that have the power to transform the world we live in.

A member of the Russell Group, the University of Sheffield has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007), recognising the outstanding contribution by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

One of the markers of a leading university is the quality of its alumni and Sheffield boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students. Its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, Siemens, Yorkshire Water, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. The White Rose University Consortium (White Rose) is a strategic partnership between 3 of the UK's leading research universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. Since its creation in 1997 White Rose has secured more than £100M into the Universities.


For further information please contact:
Amy Stone
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046