Applied Sciences at UWE Bristol retain Athena SWAN Bronze Award for commitment to gender equality

Issue date: 09 May 2017


The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) has announced the renewal of the Athena SWAN Bronze Award granted to the Department of Applied Sciences in recognition of its continued efforts to challenge gender inequality.

As latest research [1] carried out by the ECU finds that nationally women employed in STEMM in academia experience disadvantages across numerous aspects of their working lives, this remains an important agenda for consideration in a Department which covers subject areas as diverse as Biology, Forensics, Biomedical and Environmental Science.

The Athena SWAN awards are organised by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), an organisation that works to further and support equality and diversity for staff and students in UK higher education.

Dr Clare Wilkinson, Athena SWAN Lead for the Department, said, “We are delighted to maintain our Bronze Award status, particularly as since May 2015 the charter was expanded to consider the role of professional and technical staff, students and staff of all genders, and to reflect more extensively on challenges which may exist in university settings due to a wider range of protected characteristics such as ethnicity, age, disability and sexual orientation. The work we put into this application shows that the Department is serious about its commitment to gender equality in its broader sense, and has allowed us to create a series of actions for the next four years, which our staff and students are fully committed to.”

Preparation for the application included a series of staff and student surveys, as well as extensive data collection on aspects of Department life such as student attainment, the gender balance amongst staff, and the accessibility of role models, for example through public engagement activities the Department contributes to.

Dr Lyn Newton, Head of the Department of Applied Sciences, said, “This is a fantastic result for the Department and Faculty as it illustrates our sustained and ongoing commitment to equality. As a Department, we have demonstrated that we are a welcoming and sociable place to work and study, where staff and students feel fully and fairly supported. Through our action plan we will continue to promote a culture of inclusiveness where no staff or students are disadvantaged. I would like to thank the Self-Assessment Team and colleagues across the Department for all their hard work and in driving the changes through to create the diverse and positive environment recognised by this award.”

The Department's application, submitted in 2016, was able to map a number of areas of improvement within the Department, including an increase in female professors, a rise in the number of female students applying, being offered places and enrolling at undergraduate level, as well as an increase in staff uptake of equality and diversity training. Athena SWAN represents just one of the areas of equality, which the Department and Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences is currently focussing on.

Sally Moyle, Associate Dean for Partnerships in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, said, “I am delighted that the Department of Applied Science in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences has been awarded the Bronze Athena SWAN award. I would like to congratulate Clare Wilkinson and the Self-Assessment Team; this award reflects their outstanding hard work and commitment in achieving this important and prestigious award. We remain committed to challenging gender stereotypes across all aspects of our work and continue to develop an environment that has gender equality at its core. We look forward to embedding the ambitious activities outlined in our Athena SWAN action plans in the coming months.”

The award will be officially presented in a ceremony, at which other HE institutions, research centres and individual schools and departments will receive their awards. UWE Bristol has already achieved a Bronze Award at institution level, as well as Bronze Awards for the departments of Nursing and Midwifery,Allied Health Professions and Engineering Design and Mathematics.

[1] The Athena Survey of Science, Engineering and Technology (ASSET) 2016 http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/asset-2016/

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