Equality in Science - Athena Swan and Project Juno
The Athena SWAN Charter recognises advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all in higher education and research. Project Juno is a scheme run by the Institute of Physics which recognises good practice in relation to gender equality. The University is proud to have held a Bronze Athena Swan institutional award since 2011, and we were awarded a Bronze award at departmental level in 2015. Physics at Exeter has held Juno Practitioner status since 2013. Find out more at www.exeter.ac.uk/physics-astronomy/about
Bethan's interest in Physics was sparked in Year 12 while on a tour of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. She says: "I spoke to scientists while on a tour of CERN and couldn't imagine doing anything else. Physics really appealed to me because I like a challenge and the numerical aspect to it - it's either right or wrong. You get to think about things that are so complex they don't seem to make sense at first, but you get to make sense of them - it's brilliant."
Bethan was elected Physics Subject Chair for the Student Staff Liaison Committee by the Students' Guild for the 2014-15 academic year and has become involved in the departmental Buddy mentor scheme. She has also secured a professional placement at The Welding Institute (TWI) for the next academic year, one of the world's foremost independent research and technology organisations, with a speciality in welding and numerical moulding.
Bethan says: "Physics is one of the most empowering and satisfying things you can do. You become incredibly numerate and good at logical thinking by the time you've finished your career and are able to go into any field. It trains your mind to think in certain ways which makes you incredibly employable - the world's your oyster. When I complete my degree it will be the proudest achievement of my life."
On her career plan moving forward, Bethan is considering undertaking a PhD in renewable energy and meteorology, dependant on where her year in industry takes her.
Bethan is a 3rd year Physics Undergraduate, studying the MPhys with Professional Experience.
Natalie is described as a “galvanising force” within her subject in terms of student engagement and outreach. Natalie took what she terms a “slightly unusual route” to her current role; after her A Levels she spent three years working as a consulting engineer whilst studying for a degree part time, before deciding to become a full time student at Exeter.
Natalie, who is now undertaking a PhD at Exeter, said she has been fortunate not to experience any hindrance in her career or otherwise, as a woman. She added: “In fact, I think it's actually helped make me 'stand out' a little in the male-dominated careers I have chosen.” Although concerned about the compatibility of academia with a healthy work-life balance in the future, Natalie said: “I'm sure this also affects men a great deal too. I'm optimistic that initiatives like Athena SWAN in STEM subjects, for example, will work to ensure flexible working opportunities for all employees in academia.”
Natalie is featured as one of 41 inspiring women as part of International Women's Day 2015.
Natalie is a first year PhD student, who has just finished her 4 year MPhys degree at Exeter
Athena SWAN Charter: Recognising advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all.
The aim of Juno is to recognise and reward departments that can demonstrate they have taken action to address the under-representation of women in university physics and to encourage better practice for both women and men.