National award recognises our commitment to gender equality

female researcher and Athena SWAN logo

Today (Thursday 28 April 2016) we have been awarded a silver institutional Athena SWAN award that recognises our ongoing commitment to gender equality. We are now one of nine of an elite group of universities holding silver institution awards.

Our award recognises our significant and sustained record of activity and achievement in promoting gender equality and in addressing challenges in different disciplines, and marks significant progress since our first bronze award in 2008 and its renewal in 2012.

This achievement is also in recognition of all of our award-winning departments, in particular those that have been recognised this year. Many congratulations to Animal & Plant Sciences for having your silver award renewed and to Materials Science & Engineering, and to Chemistry for receiving silver awards. All of our science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM) departments, plus Archaeology, now hold an Athena SWAN award. 

Director of Human Resources, Andrew Dodman, said: “I am once again delighted at the recognition awarded to our University and our departments by Athena SWAN and would like to extend my congratulations and thanks to everybody involved – you have all worked so hard. We aim to attract, engage and develop the best talent, and our Athena SWAN success will act as further motivation to help us continue to embed inclusivity throughout the University, and create a truly remarkable place to work."

Lorraine Maltby, Gender Equality Committee Chair, said: “Achieving an Athena SWAN award is not easy – it requires hard work and dedication from many people and a genuine commitment to change. This is a fantastic achievement by all those involved and is testimony to how importantly gender equality is viewed.”

Andrew added: “There is however more to do. Our silver level institutional action plan takes into account the need for continuous engagement with decision makers to effect culture change, and the need to build greater capability amongst staff at all levels. We will also continue to support further departmental applications.”

Activity at University level and in this year's award-winning departments:

University level

Our silver award is testimony to the broad range of activity at University level. For example, our Women Academics Returners Programme (WARP), our mentoring programmes, and our active Women@TUOS.

We’ve also focussed on bringing more gender balance to our leadership and committee roles. We’ve seen a marked increase in female representation on Senate over the past 10 years with 40 per cent of senators now female compared to 20.5 per cent in 2006–7

11 of 15 Senate Committees have over 40 per cent female representation. Overall, 44 per cent of the members of Senate committees are female.

One third of the University Council are female, the highest proportion in eight years. We recently appointed our first female Chancellor, the Rt Hon Lady Justice Rafferty, and our first female Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Shearer West.

Materials Science and Engineering

"Our award is the result of five years of commitment of our staff to making the department a great place for women to study and work. Our achievements include a substantial increase in female student and staff numbers, impactful careers and personal development events, and restructuring of work practices to ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all our staff.” Professor Beverley Inkson

Materials Science and Engineering staff

Pictured: Dr Nicola Morley, Professor Beverley Inkson, Dr Gwen Reilly and Dr Rebecca Boston celebrate news of an Athena SWAN silver award for Materials Science and Engineering.

Department of Materials Science and Engineering news story

Animal and Plant Sciences

“One of the most important aspects of putting together our first application in 2012 for Athena SWAN silver was how it drew the department together and helped us focus on issues that were fundamental to our working practices. Over the last three years our processes for improving our working environment and the prospects for all our colleagues has become more deeply woven into our cultural fabric. That achievement is something everyone in APS should be and is extremely proud of.” Dr Rhonda Snook

Department of Animal and Plant Sciences news story


“Delivering on our action plan for our bronze award and submitting this recent Athena SWAN silver award is a critical ongoing process: to ensure we assess ourselves, think and implement changes that really affect our department for the benefit of everyone has been very rewarding. I am thrilled the department has obtained the silver award in recognition of this valuable and continuing work to make this department a great place to work and study for all." Dr Sarah Staniland, Chair of the Department of Chemistry Equality and Diversity Committee

Chemistry department magazine on women in science

Pictured: Special issue of the Department of Chemistry department magazine on women in science

Department of Chemistry news story

In recognition of our achievements we have also been chosen to host the National Athena SWAN awards ceremony on 30 June 2016. This is a great opportunity to celebrate our success and to congratulate all the winners in this round. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West will deliver the opening address and looks forward to officially welcoming some of our own Athena SWAN champions, and members of other universities.

About the Athena SWAN Charter

The Equality Challenge Unit’s 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, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM).

With the support of the Equality Challenge Unit and the UKRC, the Charter was officially launched at the Institute of Physics on 22 June 2005, with the first awards conferred in 2006. In May 2015 the scope of the Athena SWAN Charter was expanded to cover gender equality in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law disciplines.