Athena SWAN

Athena SWAN is a Charter that recognises the advancement of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM). Within STEMM disciplines, women are typically under-represented at senior levels across the Higher Education sector and Athena SWAN looks to address this.

The University is a proud member of the Athena SWAN Charter and holds a Bronze institutional award and departmental awards.

Further information can be found on our Women in Higher Education website.

Meet a few of our talented women:

Professor Catherine Mitchell has worked on energy issues since the early 1980s. With a career stretching over academia, journalism, implementing reports and policies as well as advising companies on transitioning the renewable energy sources, Professor Mitchell has been influential in her field through authoring reports such as the IPCC Working Group 3’s Fifth Assessment report (AR5) and a coordinating Lead Author (CLA) of the Policy, Financing & Implementation Chapter of the IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change) Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation 2008-2011. Currently, Catherine is leading a three year project (2016-2019), named Innovation and Governance for Future Energy Systems, as well as being the Chair of the Regulatory Assistance Project – a US based non-profit organisation that provides regulatory advice to Governments; and on the Advisory Board of the GB based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).

Professor Catherine Mitchell, Professor of Energy Policy


Catherine is a cyberpsychologist interested in health research and online communities. She graduated from the University of Bath in 2016 with a BSc (Hons) degree in Psychology and came runner up for the Helen Haste award for creativity and innovative writing. She is now a second year Medical Studies PhD student in the Centre for Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health (REACH) at the University of Exeter. Her PhD research concerns dementia and social media. She has recently published research about fitness and pro-anorexia content in the Journal of Eating Disorders, which has featured in national papers. Catherine is a British Psychological Society South West Branch committee member and a PsyPAG core committee member.

Catherine Talbot, PhD student


Dr Helen Fones’ research focusses on fungal pathogens of crop plants - microbes that attack and destroy a high proportion of the food grown around the world every year. As the senior post-doc in Professor Sarah Gurr’s lab, her role is to lead on various projects, including work on pathogens of wheat, bananas and ash trees. She studies the fungus' life-cycles and their capacity to adapt to new challenges and environments. Helen feels very lucky with the people she has worked with in science, both men and women. She particularly highlights Sarah Gurr and her former PhD supervisor, Professor Gail Preston, as scientific women of inspiration. Helen doesn’t feel she has encountered overt sexism during her career but believes that most barriers faced by women are structural or societal, also believes that subtle barriers – such as those faced at home – still need to be addressed. She believes that the University is excellent at working against the obvious ways that women may be disadvantaged, through initiatives such as Athena Swan.

Dr Helen Fones, post-doctoral Research Fellow in Biosciences


Professor Isabelle Baraffe joined the University in 2010, following extensive international work, which included senior research and professor roles at Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon (CRAL) and Ecole Normale Superieure in Lyon, France, and the University of Gottingen and Max-Planck Institut fur Astrophysik in Germany. Her excellence in research has led to her receiving several awards, including an Advanced European Research Council (ERC) grant in 2012; a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award in 2010; a Gauss-Professorship from Goettingen Academy of Sciences in 2005; the Johann WEMPE prize of the Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam in 2004; and a bronze medal from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France) 1999. She says: ‘The main wisdom I can share is to work hard, and this would apply to anyone. I always make the comparison between high level researchers and high level athletes. If one wants to reach the highest level, one needs to set the right priorities at the right time and work very hard.’

Professor Isabelle Baraffe, Chair of Astrophysics


With her work featuring in the media and having global impact, Professor Galloway is an inspiration within the Exeter academic cohort. Her work focuses on marine pollution, the human health effects of pollutants and the sustainable development of novel materials and substances. She is a member of the Environmental Biology research group, which studies how pollutants affect human and wildlife populations, how they damage living systems, and how resistance has been developed against pollutants. This research on invertebrate organisms provides a model for disease process and how environmental factors contribute to human health conditions, making Tamara’s work extremely relevant. Her research on plastic in oceans has appeared on BBC 1 News and BBC World Service (2015), as well as NERC Planet Earth Online podcast (2014). The University of Exeter has recognised Tamara’s excellence, seen through her being shortlisted for the University of Exeter Research Award.

Professor Tamara Galloway


The University has been successful in achieving an Institutional Bronze Athena SWAN award.