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Advance HE pays tribute to providers promoting equality in higher education

15 Mar 2023 | Advance HE Winners of Athena Swan and Race Equality Charters honoured at special awards event.

Staff from more than 35 higher education providers attended a special awards event hosted by Advance HE at the two-day Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Conference 2023 to celebrate the progress they have made in promoting equality for all students and staff, irrespective of gender, race or cultural heritage.

All those who attended were among the 360 departments, research institutes and universities that have successfully achieved an Advance HE award for either gender or race equality in the past three years.

Charter Award winners

Thirty-three were winners of an Athena Swan Charter which recognises work to advance gender equality in higher education; three had won a Race Equality Charter which recognises work to improve the representation, progression and success of Black, Asian and minority ethnic students and staff; and two had won both Charter awards during the period.

Welcoming guests, Heads of the Athena Swan and Race Equality Charters, Dani Glazzard and Anne Mwangi, said:

“The higher education sector knows the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion. It understands the sound business reasons that exist for taking it seriously, as well as the legal and social justice imperatives.

“Equality, diversity and inclusion needs to go far beyond words on a corporate mission statement. It should be at the heart of the way institutions operate – how they recruit, how they promote, the culture they create and the opportunities they provide.

Delivering EDI

“That’s why I am so delighted to be able to pay tribute to 360  departments and institutions that have taken tangible steps forward in delivering on EDI. They have shown proven commitment to doing more than just talking the talk. They have put in place robust action plans and are delivering real change on the ground.

“While each has already earned itself either an Athena Swan or  Race Equality Charter award, this is the first opportunity we have had to come together to honour their achievements, share their experiences and congratulate them in person.”

Athena Swan 

Among those who had been conferred an Athena Swan Charter were:

Economics Department, University of Essex (2021)

Professors Tim Hatton and Kate Rockett, Department of Economics, Joint Departmental Athena Swan Application Leads, said:

“The Athena Swan application has allowed us to interact with a fantastic team as we work toward embedding equality and diversity in our procedures and everyday interactions, thereby contributing to well-being, collegiality, productivity, and recruitment.”

Coventry University (2022 renewal)

Professor Jenna Ward, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law, Chair, said:

“Athena Swan has given us a legitimate basis upon which to request data and interrogate the structural barrier to gender equality.”

Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton (2021)

Professor Roxana Carare, Chair of Athena Swan Faculty of Medicine Committee, said:

“The most significant achievements for the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Southampton are within appraisals, appointments at leadership levels, promotions of women, role models, beacon activities in wellbeing for staff and intersectionality, as well as contributions in tackling the pandemic.”

University of Hull (2022)

Dr Martha Kember, Human Resources partner and institutional Athena Swan lead, said:

“This authentic exploration of our institutional landscape was both troublesome and inspirational. The charter submission gave us permission to shine a light on our practice and to be open and honest about where we want to be.”

Psychology Department, Northumbria University (2020)

Dr Lisa Thomas, Assistant Professor, said:

“Engaging with the Athena Swan process has ensured the issue of gender is front and centre of everything we do in our department, encouraging collegiate discussion and a desire for positive change.”

Leeds Beckett University (2022)

Eleanor Broadbent, Equality Diversity and Inclusion Manager, said:

“It has reinforced our continued commitment to gender equality, underpinned by the accountability of our action plan. It has helped us to identify and respond to these challenges through the lens of intersectionality.” 

University College London (UCL) (2021)

Professor Sara Mole Provost's Envoy for Gender Equality, said:

“We have used Athena Swan at UCL to provide a framework to advance gender equality at departmental and institute level since 2008. We now have 50 departmental awards (including three golds) and institutional silver.”

James Watt School of Engineering, University of Glasgow (2022)

Professor Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez, Head of the James Watt School of Engineering, said:

“The Athena Swan framework has helped shine a spotlight on diversity and equality, raising our ambition to address inequalities as part of a healthy and inclusive school culture that values and nurtures its staff and students.”

Design and Engineering Department, Bournemouth University (Bronze)

Dr Roya Haratian, Principal Academic, said:

“The process of developing Athena Swan application was an eye-opener to the challenges regarding gender equality and inclusivity for all whereas we aim to continue the process to address the actions developed in our Athena Swan application.”

London South Bank University (LSBU) (2020)

Dominque Gardner, Equality Diversity and Inclusion Project Manager, said:

“LSBU has implemented processes and systems across the university that will ensure a sustained focus on improving gender equality in an intersectional way, and that our staff are recognised for driving this work forwards.”

School of Engineering and Innovation, The Open University (2021)

Nicole Lotz, Senior Lecturer in Design, Athena Swan Chair for School of Engineering and Innovation, said:

“The Athena Swan process has helped us to increase awareness of the benefits of gender equality for everyone. We reached a wider range of staff with whom we work in partnership and created allies beyond the department.”

Department of Biology, University of St Andrews (2021)

Professor Sascha Hooker, Director of the Biology Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (2016 to 2021), said:

“The Athena Swan data-driven approach has helped us promote equality for everyone, using gender as the ‘canary in the coalmine’.  Embedding transparency and fairness for all, our Department is more supportive for it.”

Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University (2020)

Dr Laura Sulin, Research Fellow and Co-Chair of the Equality Diversity and Inclusion Committee, said:

“The Athena Swan process acted as a catalyst to establish a dedicated Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee for our Centre, where we can address and advance a wide range of EDI issues.”

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of Bradford (2021)

Dr Humaira Khan, Associate Dean of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for the Faculty of Life Sciences, said:

“The Athena Swan process has been pivotal in transforming the way we think and respond to gender inequality. It has enabled us to honestly and critically assess the culture within our school, identify barriers to gender equality and take action on key areas we identified, enabling positive, sustainable change.”

Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London (2021)

Miss Sophia Quazi, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, said:

“I believe the charter helped to accelerate teamwork and collaboration. It also encourages creative actions to tackle historical challenges when presented with the data.”

Stirling Management School, University of Stirling (2021)

Dr Adelina Broadbridge, Senior Lecturer, said:

“The Athena Swan process raised awareness throughout the Faculty of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion issues generally, and confidently empowers our efforts to  challenge traditional thinking and change mindsets as we move forward our action plans to the benefit of all.” 

Mathematics Department, King’s College London (2020)

Dr. Kalliopi Mylona, Senior Lecturer in Statistics, said:

“We have created an Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee at the department and we maintain a focus on embedding EDI in all we do.”

School of Physics & Astronomy, Cardiff University (2021)

Dr Cosimo Inserra, Chair of Physics Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee and University Dean for EDI, said:

“We are thrilled that changes in our School culture have led to this award. Recognising all the work put in by many people, we want to use this momentum to make sure this is just the beginning!”

School of Electrical Engineering, Electronics and Computer Science, University of Liverpool (2020)

Professor Katie Atkinson, Dean of Electrical Engineering, Electronics and Computer Science, said:

“The Athena Swan process has sharpened our planning for advancing gender equality and provided a focus on current activities yielding tangible outcomes plus future actions we must take to attain the inclusive academic environment we seek.”

Faculty of Education, Edge Hill University (2021)

Dr Jane Moore, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Education, said:

“The process has strengthened our continuous commitment to addressing gender equality issues through our Gender Equality Working Group, which champions the need for equality to be brought about by collective effort, resolve, and dedication.”

Electronics and Computer Science Department, University of Southampton (2021)

Professor Christopher Freeman, Deputy Head of School for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, said:

“Athena Swan has transformed the equality agenda of our school, from the focus of a small subcommittee to become a central part of all our day-to-day lives; central to our operation, strategy and processes.”

Faculty of Health Studies, University of Bradford (2020)

Professor Karen Stansfield, Dean and Professor of Healthcare Leadership Faculty of Health Studies, said:

“Delivering the Athena Swan framework is integral to everything we do in the Faculty of Health Studies across all activities and is aligned to our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy for staff, students and partners.”

Nursing, Midwifery and Health Department, Northumbria University (2020)

Dr Sue Jackson, Associate Professor, Departmental Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), said:

“The process of the Athena Swan application shone a light on our limitations and on our strengths regarding gender equality. Most importantly, EDI has now become positive and productive talking point throughout the whole department.”

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Liverpool (2021)

Professor Judy Couslon, Faculty Equality Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Lead, and Miss Laura Davies (Faculty Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Officer) said:

“Athena Swan helped us question whether our processes limited the achievements of our faculty community because of gender, seeking to improve key areas and develop new initiatives to benefit all, employing an increasingly intersectional lens.”

School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University (2021)

Dr. Azam Nekahi Senior Lecturer, School of Computing, Engineering & Built Environment Academic lead of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion said: "The silver award extended SCEBE’s confidence to improve our gender equality and experience of all our staff and students as well as protected characteristics. Despite improvements in numbers, performance, and experience of female students for a number of programmes, the recruitment of female students remains a significant challenge.”

University of Liverpool (2022)

Holly Nicholls, Head of Diversity and Equality, said:

“Athena Swan has given us a structured framework to undertake improvements to gender equality.”

Department of Music and Media, University of Surrey (2022)

Dr Andy Gilbert said: "Athena Swan has changed the way the Department of Music and Media thinks about gender, which means that gender is always considered and addressed when considering student and staff well-being and learning.”

School of Law, University of Surrey (2019)

Dr Vickie Thanapal said:  "Athena Swan has launched a paradigm change in how the strategic and operational activities in the Law School are structured. We have transformed how we actively engage with and identify areas of improvement and support through meaningful perspective exchange.”

Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield (Silver Renewal 2021)

Professor Guy Brown, Head of Department, said: “Our department has proactively engaged with Athena Swan for over a decade, having gained our Bronze award in 2012, followed by our first Silver award in 2016. We strive to create an inclusive culture in the Department of Computer Science, and values of equality, diversity and mutual respect are core to our identity as a department. This Silver Athena Swan Award renewal is a reflection of the dedication of our staff and students to create a welcoming and supportive place to work.”

Race Equality Charter 

Among those who had been awarded a Race Equality Charter were:

University of Warwick (2022)

Professor Stuart Croft, Vice Chancellor, said:

“The Race Equality Charter process has provided a lens with which to pinpoint the underlying issues of racial inequality and prioritise issues that are fundamental to achieving sustainable change in the shape of an inclusive culture.”

Manchester Metropolitan University (2022)

Naheed Nazir, Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said:

“The Race Equality Charter provided a structured, collaborative and externally validated means of identifying race-related barriers for our staff and students and co-creation of ways to address them. Our resulting action demonstrates an ambitious, shared commitment to racial equity.”

Durham University (2022)

Ms Rachel Archbold, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said:

“Whilst the Race Equality Charter(REC) has provided a clear framework to build on our race equality work at an institutional level, our REC action plan can be adapted at a local level; which facilitates reflection and inflection, driving innovation and embedding ownership and accountability across the organisation.”

Athena Swan and Race Equality Charters

Among those who had been awarded both charters were:

University of Birmingham (2020)

Dr Sammy Li, Assistant Director of Student Affairs (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion), said:

“Our Race Equality Charter action plan provided a strategic framework for embedding race equality initiatives into campus life, from wellbeing provision to sport participation or catering offers, ensuring an inclusive experience for students of all cultural communities.”

University of Bradford (Athena Swan Bronze – 2021, Race Equality Charter Bronze – 2022)

Professor Udy Archibong, Pro Vice Chancellor (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), said:

“Our Athena Swan and Race Equality Charter awards are the beginning; an opportunity to be innovative in addressing systemic inequality, to work with colleagues to co-create and enable a climate for inclusion, and make our diversity count.”

York St John University (Athena Swan Bronze and Race Equality Charter Bronze)

Vice Chancellor Professor Karen Bryan, said:

"Our commitment to race equality forms an integral part of our mission to advance social justice at York St John University. My thanks to our Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team whose hard work is helping us to identify and address race inequalities, as recognised by this Race Equality Charter Bronze award. We know that there is still significant work to do, and we will continue to focus our efforts on ensuring an inclusive environment for everyone.

"Our commitment to gender equality is ongoing and we know that whilst we have made very positive strides in this area, we still have work to do in other areas.  This award recognises that we are on the right track to continue removing the barriers to progression that affect women. A rigourous submission process was undertaken by colleagues on the Self-Assessment Team and I thank them for their hard work and dedication to achieve this award.”  

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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