Welcome to the School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science‘s blog – SAGE(S) Advice – see what we did there? It’s a space for members of our School to share and discuss with you our experiences and ideas about fieldwork, gender and careers.
We’re a School within the Faculty of Science at the University of Reading. In November 2011, we won our Athena SWAN Bronze Award (hurrah!) and this blog forms an important part of our aspiration to create a culture of equality and inclusivity for our staff, students and everyone we work with. We want to engage in a dialogue online and in-person about the fieldwork that is so central to the academic disciplines in our School and to many of the career paths our students pursue. So whilst the title of our blog involved some creative thinking, it is a serious endeavour to widen the discussion and applicability of the Athena SWAN charter. It’s not only for women. It’s a charter for everyone.
So what is Athena SWAN?
The Athena SWAN charter was launched in 2005 “to advance the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics”. There are now 114 Athena SWAN members. This is pretty remarkable but there is much work still to be done.
All Athena SWAN members sign up to the principles of the charter:
- To address gender inequalities requires commitment and action from everyone, at all levels of the organisation
- To tackle the unequal representation of women in science requires changing cultures and attitudes across the organisation
- The absence of diversity at management and policy-making levels has broad implications which the organisation will examine
- The high loss rate of women in science is an urgent concern which the organisation will address
- The system of short-term contracts has particularly negative consequences for the retention and progression of women in science, which the organisation recognises
- There are both personal and structural obstacles to women making the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career in science, which require the active consideration of the organisation
In our School, the Athena SWAN charter and our work on gender and fieldwork is embedded across the many committees and student programmes in operation. We do this not just for women within our School and beyond, but also to enhance the working culture for all of our staff and students.
A bit about today’s blogger
I’m Dr Hilary Geoghegan and I am Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Reading. I research ‘enthusiasm’ – specifically the emotional affiliations and attachments we feel towards the material world around us and how this influences our actions, passions and performances in the world. I lead on our School Athena SWAN activities and it is my pleasure to work with colleagues on this blog but also our wider gender and fieldwork initiatives on which there will be more in due course. I’ve always loved geography as a subject, particularly the opportunity to visit different places (even if they are very local!) and talk to people about how they experience the world. My most recent bit of fieldwork was in Australia, but I’ll save that for a future blogpost!