By Joan Robertson, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer

The Athena SWAN Charter is an accreditation scheme established in 2005 which recognises action to address gender equality within higher education. Its original focus was to advance the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM). Our Chancellor, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, was a founder member of the Athena SWAN programme and has played a significant role in encouraging women around the world into science. In 2015 the charter was expanded to include subjects beyond STEMM and beyond gender to other protected groups.

The University is proud to hold a number of awards, including a University-wide Bronze Award. Bronze Awards recognise a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff.

The most recent award went to the School of Education and Social Work. Their challenge has always been to encourage men into social work and teaching, where numbers of men are especially low. For their commitment to this and the development of women into leadership roles, in June this year they received their Bronze Charter. The School is one of the first of our non-science schools to achieve the award. 

This award added to those Bronze Awards already achieved by the Schools of Science and Engineering, Nursing and Health Sciences, Dentistry and Medicine.

The School of Life Sciences is leading the way in the University after achieving a silver award in October 2018. Their Athena SWAN committee are busy delivering the actions they committed to in their application. 

These awards are not given lightly and it is thanks to the individuals and teams within Schools that progress to achieve equity for staff and students alike is very much part of day-to-day business.

Athena SWAN is just one part of the equality agenda and there has been a real step change in the work going on across the University to promote equality, diversity and inclusion. Staff networks for BME, disabled and LGBT+ staff meet regularly and contribute positively to the culture and working practices of the University. We have now committed to participating in the Advance HE Race Charter, which is progressed by the BME Staff Network and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Office. 

This last year we also improved our place by over 100 points in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. Stonewall work to promote equality and inclusion for LGBT+ in all areas of employment. The LGBT+ Staff Network lead on this application.

In the last month a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer has been appointed. George Simonds has responsibility for coordinating our Athena SWAN and Race Charter applications and will also work with the LGBT+ Staff Network to develop our next Stonewall Workplace Equality Index application.

For more information visit the Athena SWAN web page within the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion pages.