Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are proud to be a department where all staff, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religious belief and disability, work in a supporting environment where they can reach their full potential. 


In order to be a world-class university we must be truly inclusive. The University of Sheffield is proud of its diverse community and is committed to working together to create a fully inclusive environment that promotes growth and development. You can learn more about inclusion at Sheffield here.

The Department holds a Juno Champion Award, which recognises its commitment to equality and diversity. In the last five years we have substantially improved the gender balance of our academic staff at all levels. We aim to ensure that there is a supportive and inclusive working environment that continues to champion the diverse needs of all staff and students in their recruitment, retention and career progression.

The Department's Equality and Diversity Committee provides the focus for work in this area, and is responsible for monitoring progress towards our goals and overseeing the implementation of new policies. We aim to ensure evidence-based good practice in all of the Department's procedures. Committee membership includes representatives from all stakeholder groups, professional services staff, early career researchers, students, technicians, and academics.

Departmental equality and diversity vision statement

Our goal is to attract an above average proportion of excellent applicants from groups who are under-represented in physics, including women and other historically underrepresented groups. This should lead to an increase in the representation of such groups at all levels, including the most senior, with an expectation of 25% female professors in ten years, and a longer-term aspiration to fully reflect the diversity of the wider UK society. These aspirations will be supported by specific policies developed with the involvement of the Department at all levels, consistently and transparently applied.

Case studies

Dr Earl Campbell

Earl Campbell is an EPSRC Fellow working in the theory of quantum light. Earl says “Me and my wife settled in Sheffield just a few months before the birth of our daughter Elora, now almost two years old. Elora's upcoming arrival into the world was certainly one of the factors that attracted us here. Sheffield was a step closer to family. Also, the physics department seemed friendly and the leafy city ideal for starting our own family.

Once here, we felt instantly at home. I discovered the physics department was a community of genuine, interesting and fantastic people. There are numerous coffee mornings, away days and lunch groups, through which I've made friends from different research groups in the department.

My previous experience has been of universities composed of non-interacting research silos, so I was surprised the variety of researchers that warmly introduced themselves. Many of these colleagues have their own children and have been an enormous source of support and advice.”

Professor Nigel Clarke

Nigel was head of department until summer 2016 when he took up the post of Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Science.

Nigel says “When I started my first academic post I was amazed and daunted by my colleagues apparent ability to work 60+ hour weeks. Since I would typically be at work from 9 until 5.30, I started taking work home with me to keep up with expectations, but then felt depressed for failing to do any due to being distracted by one of what felt like guilty pleasures: cooking, cycling and drumming.

Over several years feeling that I wasn’t working hard enough, it dawned on me that the quality of my work, whether it was my teaching, my research or my support work for wider department activities was on a par with that of most of my colleagues, and I started to realise that my working pattern was not only good for my work/life balance but also good for the quality of my work.

When I became Head of Department, many of my colleagues warned me about the long working days I would now face and how I would have to work weekends to compensate. Strangely the opposite has turned out to be the case.

Many of my days are so “full on” that I often leave at 5, head home and take myself out for a strenuous bike ride: one of the great pleasures of living in Sheffield is how easy it is to find a route filled with long steep climbs! The main pressure on me to not go out on my bike is my cat who is determined to be the centre of my attention for the evening.

Admittedly, I might read and send the occasional email in the evenings and at weekends, but I’ve been working hard to reduce even that activity, as much to leave my colleagues in peace as for my own sake!”

Dr Matthew Mears

Matt joined the department in 2002 as an undergraduate, then a PhD under Professor Mark Geoghegan, followed by an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellowship (2011-2012) and Teaching Fellowship (2012-2014) and most recently as a University Teacher in physics.

With both my partner Drew and myself working in academia we both know the pressures involved so both he and I have to try hard to maintain a work-life balance. The flexibility and support within the department mean that I know I can speak to my colleagues if I need to reshuffle workload, even when this needs to happen with little to no warning.

I also feel both supported and encouraged to dedicate some of my time to the LGBT Staff Network, working with different Equality & Diversity groups and committees throughout the University, and most recently launching our institutional ‘straight allies’ programme called Open@TUoS.

Professor David Mowbray

David has worked in Sheffield for 25 years. Between 2006 and 2012 he was Head of Department. He now heads the Department's Equality and Diversity committee and is a member of similar committees at both faculty and university level.

David says: 'I have three children, 19, 15 and 12. Following the birth of our first child my wife returned to work three days a week. On the three days that she worked she would drop my son off at child minder and I would leave work early to pick him up so that he didn't have too long a day away from home. I really valued those hours caring for him before my wife came home. My wife also had to work away from Sheffield for two weeks each year which I was able to cover.

Following the birth of our second child my wife decided to take a career break and only in the last few years has she returned to part time work. Even when I was Head of Department I tried to keep weekends free for the family.

I believe it is very important that senior people within the university set an example that families are very important, for example cancelling meetings when they have unexpected childcare issues, hospital appointments etc and avoiding a culture of excessive working hours.'

REF 2021 illustration showing University building and subject areas

Research Excellence Framework 2021

We have been rated 1st in the UK in terms of the quality of our research. In the latest REF, 100 per cent of research and impact from our department has been classed as world-leading or internationally excellent.