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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 academic departments within MPLS have been granted Athena Swan awards. As of May 2021, three departments hold Silver awards and seven departments hold Bronze awards.

Silver awards: Chemistry (renewed in May 2021), Mathematical Institute (renewed in May 2021), 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.

If you have any questions, please contact us via diversity@mpls.ox.ac.uk.

Athena Swan principles

In committing to the principles of the Athena Swan Charter, we recognise that we join a global community with a shared goal of addressing gender inequalities and embedding inclusive cultures.

Each institution, research institute, department and directorate has different gender equality challenges and development priorities. These priorities should be developed based on an understanding of the local evidence-base and national and global gender equality issues.

In determining our priorities and interventions, we commit to:

1. Adopting robust, transparent and accountable processes for gender equality work, including:

  • Embedding diversity, equity and inclusion in our culture, decision-making and partnerships, and holding ourselves and others in our institution/institute/department/directorate accountable.
  • Undertaking evidence-based, transparent self-assessment processes to direct our priorities and interventions for gender equality, and evaluating our progress to inform our continuous development.
  • Ensuring that gender equality work is distributed appropriately, is recognised and properly rewarded.

2. Addressing structural inequalities and social injustices that manifest as differential experiences and outcomes for staff and students. 

3. Tackling behaviours and cultures that detract from the safety and collegiality of our work and study environments for people of all genders, including not tolerating gender-based violence, discrimination, bullying, harassment or exploitation.

4. Understanding and addressing intersectional inequalities.

5. Fostering collective understanding that individuals have the right to determine their own gender identity, and tackling the specific issues faced by trans and non-binary people because of their identity.

6. Examining gendered occupational segregation, and elevating the status, voice and career opportunities of any identified under-valued and at-risk groups. 

7. Mitigating the gendered impact of caring responsibilities and career breaks, and supporting flexibility and the maintenance of a healthy ‘whole life balance’. 

8. Mitigating the gendered impact of short-term and casual contracts for staff seeking sustainable careers.