Athena SWAN

The department aims to work towards Silver accreditation by 2021

Gender equality award for university department

A University of Exeter department has won an Athena SWAN Bronze Award, recognising its commitment to advancing the careers of women in science.

The Department of Biosciences, at the Streatham Campus in Exeter, won the recognition for addressing gender inequality, tackling unequal gender representation and improving career progression for female academics.

Biosciences is the first University of Exeter department to go for recognition under the new “Post May 2015” Athena SWAN criteria.

This offers a stronger framework for enhancing equality, as the criteria have been expanded to include professional services, as well as academic staff, and require departments to assess both gender and other protected characteristics such as ethnicity, disability and gender-reassignment.

Professor Dan Charman, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the College of Life and Environmental Sciences (which includes Biosciences), said: “I am delighted that our Biosciences department on the Streatham Campus has been awarded Athena SWAN accreditation, and I congratulate the whole department and especially the team that put the bid and action plans together.

“We are extremely proud. We view the work behind the awards as vitally important in our mission to advance gender equality and success for all in academic and academically related professional service careers.”

Dr Robert Wilson, who led the application process, said: “The Bronze award recognises that we are taking steps to create a better, fairer and more inclusive working environment.

“By tackling practices that have a disproportionate impact on female staff and students, we aim to ensure that working practice is improved to the benefit of all.”

Dr Eduarda Santos, who has worked in the Department of Biosciences since 2001, and launched the Athena SWAN process in the Department in 2011, notes her experience of the pro-active approach that the department has adopted towards supporting career progression for female academics.

“We have made real progress with initiatives such as flexible working, mentoring and the visibility of successful female role models, which can make a huge difference to helping staff and students achieve their full potential,” she said.

The award will be presented to a representative of the department at the ECU Athena SWAN awards ceremony at University of Glasgow next month.

Moving forward, the Department of Biosciences has an action plan to build on the Bronze award, working towards Silver accreditation by 2021.

Date: 24 November 2017

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