Women on top - celebrating Athena SWAN bronze award

Equality for women at Swansea University has been a mission since 1921 when Mary Williams was appointed Professor of French Language and Literature and the first woman to be appointed to a Chair at a UK university.

The university is still committed to promoting better positions for  women and yesterday celebrated maintaining its Athena SWAN Bronze Award and the launch of the Women in Universities Mentoring Scheme (WUMS) for women in Higher Education in Wales.

Athena SWAN (Scientific Women's Academic Network), is a UK programme that celebrates recognition and commitment to advancing women’s careers in Science, Technology, engineering, maths and medicine in Higher Education and research. The university first won  the award in 2009.ablished in 2005 that celebrates recognition and commitment to advancing women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) in Higher Education and research.

Athena SWANbronze award

 A sharp two fingered whistle from Professor Hiliary Lappin Scott quietened down all women present at the award celebration ready for the upcoming presentations.

Professor Diane Kelly from the College of Medicine gave an introduction to Athena SWAN in the context of the College of Medicine but with relevance for  academics in all colleges as well as support staff. She highlighted:

“It’s all about changing the fabric of the culture of the institution.”

Professor Hilary Lappin-Scottt gave the Keynote speech and spoke of the importance of using all talent to maximise achievements, the need for career progression plans and role models within the university, but also of the challenges for women in senior positions in a male dominated culture.

She also introduced the next steps for Athena SWAN.  Listening to all feedback from two earlier events this year the 2013 activities and next steps include:

  • Launching the WUMS mentoring scheme invitations for which will be emailed this October
  • Scoping CV workshop session to provide advice and feedback in CV’s and interview skills

Professor Lappin-Scott highlighted:

“It’s about supporting women so that we all feel we can fulfil our own potential. It’s taken 94 years for the university to get a female into the senior management team. I’m please to be the equality and diversity champion and committed to ensuring that we use all of the talent we have across the university.”

Nia Gwynn Meacher from Bangor University presented the benefits of WUMS and how it could support women who may feel that academic careers are less attractive due to competition and isolation.

Sarah Huws-Davies chaired the event and gave a full  round up of the presentations agreeing:

“As women in senior positions we have a responsibility to encourage and support all our staff through the provision of training, development and mentoring.”

Vice Chancellor Professor Richard B Davies said:

“I would like to congratulate and thank all the people that have made the achievement of the Athena SWAN possible. We appreciate that there is further to go, and Swansea is committed to improving our performance in these areas. Silver award next!”