The blog is evolving

Last week Hilary and I travelled to Sheffield to collect SAGES Silver Athena SWAN award.  Thank you and congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make this possible!



With our Athena SWAN awards – Louise Jones, Hilary Geoghegan (SAGES) and Joanne Elliott (Chemistry)

This is, however, only one stage in the Athena SWAN ‘journey.’  This blog was established as part of the SAGES 2014-2015 Gender and Fieldwork Project, exploring Fieldwork, Gender and Careers.  Later Wellbeing was also added as a really important topic to explore further.  It is now time for the blog to evolve and be part of a new project.  This is therefore my last blog post, as the blog will now become part of a SAGES Disability and Inclusion Project led by Dr Ruth Evans:

The SAGES Disability and Inclusion project aims to raise awareness about disability and foster inclusive learning and working environments in SAGES. Ruth Evans, School Diversity and Inclusion representative, is currently consulting with key University staff and students about the focus of the project, including reviewing current support and facilities for students and exploring how to raise awareness of disability and mental health among staff. We have a particular focus on  ensuring that fieldwork is inclusive and are exploring staff training and capacity building and peer mentoring of students. We welcome any ideas or suggestions or examples of good practice as the project develops. Contact:

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has supported this blog from the start, everyone who read the posts, has suggested ideas and forwarded comments, and on a personal level everyone who has encouraged me to start and then continue blogging.  Thank you!!!

Good luck to everyone with your research/studies/work/finding that work life balance, and look out for upcoming posts from the Diversity and Inclusion team……..


Athena SWAN results announced!

The results have been announced this morning and SAGES have been awarded a Silver Athena SWAN award!! Congratulations and thank you to everyone who worked so hard towards achieving this award. You made a difference!


Ruth Gilligan, ECU’s Athena SWAN manager said:

We are delighted to announce the 84 successful awards today. It is the culmination of many months work for institutions and departments, and for ECU as well. We held 32 assessment panels over the course of 11 weeks, and would like to thank the 168 panelists from across the sector for taking part.

‘It is encouraging to see universities engaging with the Athena SWAN Charter across disciplines, and rolling out the benefits of this work to colleagues in professional and support roles. It is a pleasure to confer the first awards to applicants under the expanded criteria.

‘We have seen a slight decrease in the overall success rate of applications, 66% down from 70% in the previous round. We provide unsuccessful applicants with full feedback straight away, so they know which areas to prioritise and where they are doing well. The difference in success rates can be attributed to the lower success rate of applications using the new process. We are providing ongoing support for applicants in how to participate in the expanded charter, through materials and workshops.’



Liverpool v-c calls for funding link to improve gender balance

Published in the Times Higher on 23rd April, Janet Beer (Vice Chancellor of the University of Liverpool) argues that a change in policy is needed to increase the number of women working at higher levels in universities.  Professor Beer has ‘called on senior figures within the research community to emulate the “incredible sector-changing leadership” shown by Dame Sally Davies, who, as chief medical officer for England in 2011, said that medical schools without an Athena SWAN silver award would not be eligible for Department of Health research funding.’ What do you think?  Would this work?  Could it be done….?

Professor Janet Beer

Professor Janet Beer

Recipients of prestigious Athena SWAN award announced

The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) have recently announced the institutions and departments which have received an Athena SWAN award (this recognises commitment to tackling gender inequality in higher education).

”Ninety-seven awards were given out in total, comprising ten awards at institutional level and 87 at departmental level. University College London and the University of Edinburgh were successful in attaining the Athena SWAN Silver award, bringing the total number of institutions with a Silver award to seven.

Seven institutions also received a Bronze award. They were: Bournemouth University, The British Antarctic Survey, Edge Hill University, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, The University of Huddersfield, University of Hull, and University of Northumbria at Newcastle. The University of York also retained its Bronze award.

Elsewhere, 61 university departments received or retained Bronze awards, 24 departments received or retained their Silver awards, and the Department of Chemistry at the University of York successfully renewed its Gold award.

In total, 139 Athena SWAN applications were submitted, meaning the 97 awards given out yielded a 70% success rate, which is consistent with previous award rounds (Nov 13 -71%, April 14 – 69%, Nov 14 – 73%).”


How will I know (if we have succeeded)

Jenny Martin (Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Queensland) has posted on her blog (cubistcrystal) about  the launch of the Science in Australia Gender Equality (SAGE) pilot of Athena SWAN. (Another use of SAGE!)  Jenny discusses how how she (everyone) will know when they have succeeded:

  • when 50% of professors and vice chancellors in Australia are women
  • when 50% of Australian scientists taking extended parental leave or working flexibly are men
  • when 50% of grants and fellowships in Australia are awarded to women
  • when 50% of invited speakers at 100% of conferences in Australia are women
  • when 100% of women scientists are paid 100% of the salaries earned by men with equivalent loads/role
  • when 0% of Australian STEMM professionals experience workplace sexism, racism, intimidation, harassment, or bullying
  • when the alpha-male model of success is the exception not the rule

If you replace ‘Australia’ with ‘UK’ you could argue the same applies here. How close are we?



Athena SWAN reaches Ireland

Published in the Times Higher on 30th July, Holly Else reports that ‘the Equity Challenge Unit has awarded Trinity College Dublin and the University of Limerick bronze institutional awards for their work on promoting women’s careers in science subjects. Irish universities made ten applications, including those of the two successful institutions, to the scheme, which was launched in Ireland as a pilot project earlier this year. Trinity College Dublin also achieved bronze departmental awards for its schools of chemistry, physics and natural sciences.’

Follow this link to read more – Athena SWAN reaches Ireland


Women in Science

‘ECU’s Interim Head of Equality Charters, Sarah Dickinson, appeared on BBC World to talk about the under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine and the work ECU do through our Athena SWAN Charter to drive forward cultural and systemic change’







The interview covered:

  • The under-representation of women in science.  On average at Undergraduate level 55% of students are female.  At Professorial level this drops to only 18% of staff being female.
  • Evidence shows that teams of men and women are more successful that single sex groups
  • Diversity = good science

Follow this link to see the interview in full –

Met Office Joins Athena SWAN

Athena Swan is not just for academic institutions.  Members also include the British Geological Survey (joined April 2014), British Antarctic Survey (April 2014), Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (April 2014), Diamond Light Source (joined March 2015) and the Natural History Museum (April 2014).   The Met Office have also now joined the the Athena SWAN charter (June 2015)! More information is likely to follow on their website shortly.

Met office

Athena SWAN set to spread wings and head Down Under

Published today (11th June) in the Times Higher, Holly Else discusses the upcoming 10th anniversary of Athena Swan, and its expansion both across institutions in the UK, and also potentially globally-

”The Equality Challenge Unit is in advanced talks to take its flagship charter mark for improving gender equality in higher education to universities in Australia. David Ruebain, chief executive of the ECU, said that there was interest in the Athena SWAN scheme “across the world” but that discussions are advanced in Australia, where the ECU is looking to develop a partnership with an agency to run the scheme there”

See the full article here –