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Athena Swan


The MPLS Division is committed to gender equality and advancing women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) within higher education and in industry. Each department within MPLS has devoted time, energy and resources to addressing gender equality and has sought to embed best practices in their policies, practices, and culture.

All ten academic departments within MPLS have been granted Athena SWAN awards. As of August 2019, three departments hold Silver awards and seven departments hold Bronze awards.

Silver awards: Chemistry, Mathematical Institute, and Physics

Bronze awards: Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Engineering Science, Materials, Plant Sciences, Statistics, and Zoology

The Equality Challenge Unit’s Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to ‘encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research’.

Beginning in May 2015, the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and now includes the arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law; professional and support roles; and trans staff and students. The Charter covers women (and men where appropriate) with respect to their representation, the progression of students into academia, their journey through career milestones, and the working environment for all staff.

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Athena Swan principles

The new Athena SWAN principles that institutions must adopt within their policies, practices, action plans and culture include:

1. We commit to advancing gender equality in academia, in particular, addressing the loss of women across the career pipeline and the absence of women from senior academic, professional and support roles.

2. We commit to addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional and support functions. We recognise disciplinary differences including:

  • The relative under representation of women in senior roles in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL)
  • The particularly high loss rate of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM)

3. We commit to tackling the gender pay gap.

4. We commit to removing the obstacles faced by women, in particular at major points of career development and progression including the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career.

5. We commit to addressing the negative consequences of using short-term contracts for the retention and progression of staff in academia, particularly women.

6. We commit to tackling the discriminatory treatment often experienced by transgender people.

7. We acknowledge that advancing gender equality demands commitment and action from all levels of the organisation and in particular active leadership from those in senior roles.

8. We commit to making and mainstreaming sustainable structural and cultural changes to advance gender equality, recognising that initiatives and actions that support individuals alone will not sufficiently advance equality.

9. All individuals have identities shaped by several different factors. We commit to considering the intersection of gender and other factors wherever possible.

10. All individuals have identities shaped by several different factors. We commit to considering the intersection of gender and other factors wherever possible.

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