Medical School’s gender equality improvement recognised with Athena SWAN Silver Award

Swansea University Medical School is today (Thursday, April 28) celebrating becoming the first department within the University to achieve an Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) Athena SWAN Charter Silver Award.

Athena SWAN Silver award logoMembership of the Athena SWAN Charter helps universities work towards sustaining equitable working environments, recognising advancement of gender equality in terms of representation, progression and success for all.

The Athena SWAN Charter, which was established in 2005 initially focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine and Mathematics (STEMM) academia only.  But in May 2015, the Charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students.

The Charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

The Charter has Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, and once a University has its own award, departments are eligible to apply for their own individual awards.

Swansea University is committed to promoting gender equality, and has been a proud member of the Athena SWAN Charter since 2008.

The University was first awarded a Bronze Award in 2009, and further achieved a second Bronze Award in April 2013. The Medical School successfully achieved an Athena SWAN Bronze department award in November 2013.

Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and External Recognition) and Chair of the Athena SWAN Strategy Group at Swansea University, said: “This highly significant award for our Medical School, the first Silver Award achieved by a Swansea University department, demonstrates the Medical School’s improved performance in gender equality and the University’s continued upward momentum through external recognition of our achievement.

“Joining the Athena SWAN Charter helps create positive change in an organisation – so that we all feel we can fulfil our own potential.  I am delighted our College of Human and Health Sciences, and College of Science also proudly hold Bronze department awards. All academic faculties and some subject areas are also in the process of preparing or submitting for the Bronze Award.

“This Silver Award achievement by our Medical School, I hope, will encourage and inspire our other departments to aim high.”

Professor Keith Lloyd, Dean and Head of Swansea University Medical School, said: “We are delighted to be leading the way at Swansea in achieving the Silver Award, which is the result of a huge effort over many years that is resulting in culture change. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of colleagues across the Medical School who have been instrumental in driving this through the relevant Athena SWAN teams and groups.

“A Silver Award recognises the impact that many of our Bronze Award actions have had, particularly the progression of women' careers in the Medical School.

“Some of the many positives resulting through this Athena SWAN Charter process include maintaining a gender balance in research career grades during a period of growth; no vertical segregation in research grades; numbers of female Grade 8 lecturers have increased from 37.5% to 75% over the last three years; numbers of female Professors have increased from zero in 2004 to 20% in 2011/12, and now to 28.6%; and the overall academic gender balance within the School has improved to 41.5%.”

Professor Diane Kelly is Chair of the Medical School’s self-assessment team, comprising staff from across the academic grades as well as undergraduate and postgraduate students, and has led on the Medical School’s application for the Silver award.

Professor Kelly said: “We are thrilled to have successfully achieved the Silver Award.  Since attaining the Bronze Award, we have established initiatives including the Women in Medicine and Science (WIMS) seminar series, which provides sessions and workshops on a range of topics including promotion, flexible working, and much more.

“Our Silver action plan reflects the new areas the Charter encompasses and we are looking forward to extending the work beyond that of academic-related career progression.”

Further information about the Swansea University Medical School Athena SWAN Charter activity can be found here.