Athena swan charter annual report

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    1. Athena Steering Group 3

    2. Athena Network Group 4


3.1 Gender Equality Charter Mark Trial – WBS 6

3.2 Experience of WBS in submitting for a GEM award 6






6.1 ESRC Funded Project 13


6.3 Your Life – The Call to Action Campaign 14




The University of Warwick became a member of the Athena SWAN Charter in 2009. The Charter recognises and celebrates good employment practice for women working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine (STEMM) in Higher Education and attempts to address gender inequalities within disciplines. Continued commitment to the Charter is enabling the University to raise its Equality and Diversity profile, both internally and externally, and is providing a framework on which to build on current good practice. Further information about the Athena Charter can be found at:

This is the third Annual Report on Warwick’s Athena work, which details the significant progress made on Athena initiatives since the University joined the Charter in 2009. Future reports will also include Warwick’s progress on the new Gender Equality Charter Mark (GEM), which will be formally launched in November 2014 - (see Section 3).

Progress is reported against initiatives implemented since the Athena Institutional Silver award was conveyed to Warwick in November 2013 (see Appendix 1 for progress on the Silver Action Plan). Many of the Athena initiatives have historically formed part of the University’s Equality Objectives 2012-2015 and progress (as of May 2014) against the objectives can be seen at:

It is proposed to review the Equality Objectives for 2015 onwards in line with the new University Strategy. Attention during 2013/14 has focused on starting to work on the actions identified on the Silver Athena Action Plan and assisting the remaining STEMM department, Computer Science, develop their Bronze Athena submission. Guidance and support has also been given to WBS whilst working on their Bronze submission in the GEM trial.

  1. Background and Update on the Athena SWAN Charter

The Athena SWAN Charter evolved from work between the Athena Project and the Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN), to advance the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM). With the support of the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) and the UK Research Council (RCUK), the Charter was officially launched at the Institute of Physics on 22 June 2005, with the first awards conferred in 2006. The Charter has grown consistently from its inception, and now has 116 member institutions who have signed up to the Charter.

A decision by the Department of Health in 2011 to link National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre and Biomedical Research Unit funding to Athena SWAN Silver awards, resulted in an increase in membership from medical and dental schools. Warwick Medical School (WMS) was the first medical school to achieve Athena success (which was described by ECU as a ‘landmark achievement’), and qualified WMS to fulfil the research funding council’s requirements.

In addition, RCUK set out a ‘Statement of Expectation for Equality and Diversity’ for institutions receiving research council funding. RCUK expects recipients of funding to ‘provide evidence of ways in which equality and diversity issues are managed at both an institutional and departmental level’. Participation in the Athena Charter contributes to such evidence.

The ECU has seen a considerable amount of interest in the Athena Charter from abroad. In November 2014, ECU will be launching a three-year pilot to extend the Charter to the higher education sector in the Republic of Ireland. This will be funded by Ireland’s Higher Education Authority, and will be the first time the Charter has been run outside of the UK. Interest has also been expressed by the Australian Academy of Science, and discussions may take place as to the practicality of such a Charter Mark being introduced in Australia.

A comprehensive guidance document on the Athena awards process is currently in development. This document will outline a new appeals process for unsuccessful submissions, which is something institutions have been requesting for some time. New submission forms are also being developed, but Athena policy is that there will be a period of time where both old and new submission forms will be accepted. ECU will also be providing a programme of panellist training, to help make the assessment process more robust. An updated set of benchmarking data will also become available as part of a re-vamp of the EUC Athena SWAN website.

  1. Governance and Network Group

2.1 Athena Steering Group

The Warwick Athena Steering Group continues to meet termly. The membership of the Group has recently been expanded to include the Chairs of the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, in preparation for launch of the Gender Equality Charter Mark (GEM) (see Section 3). There have also been changes in the representation from Research Support Services (RSS) and Human Resources (HR) (see full membership below).

The Athena Steering Group is chaired by Professor Tim Jones, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Knowledge Transfer, Business Engagement and Research (Science and Engineering). The Athena Steering Group provides University-level strategy for Athena, taking oversight of University-wide activities to ensure that Warwick does not disadvantage women, or indeed anyone, within its talent pool, and considers new initiatives, issues of concern and monitors the career progression of women across all STEMM disciplines and increasingly in other faculties also.

The key aim of the Athena Steering Group is to review and develop strategies for the implementation of appropriate activities within the Athena agenda and to encourage the career development of women in all Faculties within the University of Warwick. The Steering Group addresses issues that either cannot be managed at departmental level or where there is institutional wide impact.

The Group Membership is:

Professor Tim Jones, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Knowledge Transfer, Business Engagement and Research (Science and Engineering) – Chair

Professor Pam Thomas – Chair of the Board of Faculty of Science

Professor Peter Winstanley – Chair of the Board of Faculty of Medicine

Professor Maureen Freely – Chair of the Board of Faculty of Arts

Professor Christopher Hughes – Chair of the Board of Faculty of Arts

Professor Alison Rodger – Chair of the Athena Network Group

Ms Geraldine Mills – HR Engagement Director

Dr Leona Morton, Research Development Manager, Science & Engineering

Mrs Leonie Walls – Human Resources Manager, Administration

Mrs Sandra Beaufoy – Human Resources Adviser, Equality and Diversity

The primary aim of the group is to support and encourage STEMM departments and Arts and Social Science departments within the University to progress their Athena and GEM Awards respectively and to advance to the next level of award. This is on the basis that this process creates a better working environment for all.

The Terms of Reference of the group remain unchanged.

    1. Athena Network Group

The Athena Network Group is an informal group with representation from all the STEMM departments as well as staff from HR, RSS, Learning and Development Centre (LDC) and Student Careers and Skills (SCS). More recently, staff from WBS have attended meetings in order that they familiarise themselves with the principles of Athena and share best practice, which can then translate into their GEM work. The group continues to be co-chaired by Alison Rodger (Chemistry/MOAC) and Sandra Beaufoy (HR Adviser – Equality and Diversity). The group meets monthly and up-dates departmental representatives on current initiatives, progress on Athena work, and encourages and supports departments with their Athena agenda. Minutes of meetings of the Network Group are posted on the Athena web page:

For the time being, staff from the Arts and Social Sciences Faculties attend the Athena Network Meetings to share best practice already being implemented in STEMM departments. A decision will need to be taken in 2014/15, if GEM submissions warrant a separate Network Group or if the Athena Network Group expands in size.

Communication of Athena successes and up and coming events related to Athena Work are also posted on the Athena web pages:

Members of staff from Warwick have also attended a number of national meetings where Athena matters are part of the agenda discussions, as well as giving presentations on Warwick’s Athena work. In particular, staff from WMS are frequently asked to attend workshops/meetings to present on the challenges they faced whilst putting together their bronze and silver submissions, and Alison Rodger and Sandra Beaufoy have given presentations on Warwick’s journey to achieve Silver Athena status.

  1. Gender Equality Charter Mark (GEM)

In 2013/14, the Equality Challenge Unit, who administer the Athena Charter Mark, piloted a new Gender Equality Charter Mark (GEM) which focuses on addressing gender inequalities and imbalance in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, in particular the under-representation of women in senior roles. The Charter Mark utilises the experience and methodology of the Athena SWAN Charter, which will continue to operate as it currently stands, with a view to bringing the two Charters together in the future. GEM will develop principles and processes that will cover:

  • All arts, humanities and social sciences disciplines

  • Under-representation of men at certain levels and in some disciplines

  • Professional and support staff (institutional submissions only)

  • Transgender equality (institutional submissions only)

Like Athena, GEM will have institutional and departmental awards at three levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Institutions that already hold Athena Institutional awards will not have to submit for a GEM institutional award.

3.1 Gender Equality Charter Mark Trial – Warwick Business School (WBS)

A pilot of GEM took place between September 2013 and April 2014. WBS took part in the pilot of the scheme and subsequently submitted for a Bronze award in April 2014. At the time of writing this report, WBS have been informed that their submission has been successful and their formal award will be presented to them later this year.

31 GEM awards were applied for with a 71% overall success rate (22 awards). This compares with 72% for the November 2013 Athena SWAN award round. Five Universities and seventeen individual departments have been recognised in the pilot. All have achieved bronze level awards. Moving forward the GEM process will be developed in light of feedback from trial participants, but there will be much synergy between the two Charter marks.

It is expected that the formal launch of GEM will be in November 2014, and other Warwick departments in the Arts and Social Science Faculties are being encouraged to participate in the GEM process and submit for an award in the first or second tranche of submissions. Several ‘Windows on Warwick’ sessions have been organised in an attempt to disseminate information on GEM to departments, and Sandra Beaufoy and Claire Martin have already attended faculty and departmental meetings to discuss GEM.

3.2 Experience of WBS in submitting for a GEM award

The Dean of WBS was asked to comment on how he found the submission process of the Gender Equality Charter Mark. His comments are as follows:

WBS’s participation in the pilot Gender Equality Charter Mark (GEM), has given the School an opportunity to consider the processes in operation to ensure we offer equality of opportunity for all staff. Although data capture and analysis was one of the most significant challenges to our submission, once we obtained the relevant data it revealed several trends of which we were not aware. The data demonstrated that WBS has several areas of excellent practice, as well as highlighting some areas where we believe improvements can be made.

Taking part in the trial has also allowed us to help shape the future of GEM. Our feedback on the process has been provided to the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), who are now updating the requirements for GEM to reflect some of our comments, such as the tight timescale, lack of cohesion with the Athena SWAN submissions and a lack of detail due to tight word count.

WBS’s GEM submission is the culmination of a lot of hard work from a large cross-section of staff and the profile and message of GEM seems to be permeating throughout the School. Specific actions from WBS’s 3-year Action Plan are being championed by particular staff members going forward who are thus helping to spread the ideas and philosophy of GEM. Obtaining a GEM bronze award is a proud achievement for WBS and demonstrates our commitment to equality for all staff’.
Professor Mark Taylor, Dean of WBS

  1. Summary of Warwick Athena Swan Submissions

Significant progress continues to be made by STEMM departments on their Athena work. In September 2013, the University successfully achieved institutional Silver Athena status, making it only the fourth institution to hold this prestigious award. The Department of Physics renewed their Athena Silver award, along with their Institute of Physics JUNO Champion status. WMG, Mathematics and Statistics all successfully achieved Athena Bronze status, and Computer Science have just been informed (September 2014) that they have been awarded Bronze status, which they submitted for in the April 2014 submission round. Warwick is now one of the few universities where all STEMM departments have Athena awards, which is an excellent indicator of the commitment to this agenda.

The table below depicts each of the ten Warwick STEMM departments and details progress that each have made, as well as the Athena contact for each department. All awards are renewable after a three year period, and it is hoped that within that time period, each department will have sufficiently moved their action plans forward to be ready to submit for the next level of award.

In future reports, similar tables will be produced for both the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences.

Table 1: Status of STEMM departments with Athena SWAN awards



Level Awarded

Proposed Submission Date

Next Level of Award to be applied for


Sue Burrows

Silver (2014)

Renewed Silver in 2014



Alison Rodger

Silver (2013)

Renewed Silver in 2013



Annie Young

Silver (2013)

April or Nov 2015



Liz Blagrove

Bronze (2012)

April 2015



Joanne Collingwood

Bronze (2013)

April 2015


Life Sciences

Orkun Soyer

Bronze (2013)

Nov 2014



Jane Coleman

Bronze (2013)




Nav Patel

Bronze (2013)




Wilfrid Kendal

Bronze (2013)



Comp Science

Alexandra Cristea




Representatives from the University, WMG, Mathematics and Statistics attended the Athena Awards Presentation Ceremony which was held at Imperial College, London in November 2013 and can be seen in the following pictures collecting their awards.

Professor Tim Jones and Sandra Beaufoy receiving the Institutional Silver Athena Award. The award is being presented by Professor Dame Julia Higgins.

Professor Alison Rodger and Leonie Walls receiving a Bronze Athena award on behalf of the Mathematics Department.

Jane Coleman and Claire White receiving a Bronze Athena Award on behalf of WMG

Dr Jo Kennedy receiving a Bronze Athena Award on behalf of the Department of Statistics.

Group photograph of Warwick staff with their Athena awards.

Sue Burrows collecting the Physics Department Silver Athena renewal award at a presentation ceremony at the University of Durham on 10 July 2014. The award was presented by Professor Dame Julia Higgins

  1. Research Confirms Positive Impact of the Athena SWAN Charter

An independent evaluation into the impact and effectiveness of the Athena SWAN Charter has confirmed that the awards scheme advanced gender equality and changes the working culture and attitude within participating departments and universities (Evaluating the Effectiveness and impact of the Athena SWAN Charter, ECU, 2013).

The Equality Challenge Unit commissioned Loughborough University to investigate the impact of Athena in higher education institutions in the UK, including:

  • The effectiveness of the Charter in advancing women’s careers in STEMM.

  • The sustainability of the changes that higher education institutions are making as a result of their participation in Athena SWAN.

  • The impact of the Athena SWAN Charter in changing the culture and attitudes across the participating higher education institutions to address inequality and unequal representation.

  • The suitability of Athena SWAN processes for use in complex and busy institutional environments.

The report also underlines that it is not only female academics that benefit from involvement in the Charter. Men also benefited from initiatives such as flexible working and improved transparency of policies/processes. Furthermore, administrative and technical staff in Silver award departments felt they also had more support for their career development and progression. The summary of the report and ECU’s response may be found at:

The report evidenced that universities and departments that hold Athena SWAN awards are more advanced in addressing unequal representation than those that do not. A number of recommendations were made to ECU that will help them to continue to refine and improve their processes so that Athena SWAN remains an effective tool for HEIs and a valuable benchmark for excellence in gender equality. David Ruebain, Chief Executive of the Equality Challenge Unit, said:

We are, of course, delighted with the findings of this independent evaluation. At a time when universities and departments have to target resources where they will make the biggest difference, I hope it will be reassuring to know there is independent evidence of the sustainable impact working towards an Athena SWAN award can have.

However, we are not going to rest on our successes; we are going to continue to build on them. We welcome the recommendations for further development and improvement of the process that will ensure the Charter remains effective and fit for purpose”.

The full report entitled ‘Advancing women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine: evaluating the effectiveness and impact of the Athena SWAN Charter is available to download:

  1. Good Practice Initiatives Implemented As Part Of Athena SWAN process

As a continuation of the good work identified through the University Silver Athena award, a significant number of innovative and good practice initiatives continue to be identified and put in place. It is essential that these initiatives are effective and meeting their objective, so where possible the progress and impact on each initiative is measured, and this is reported on the Silver Action Plan Progress Table (see Appendix 1). Some initiatives worth highlighting are discussed below.

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