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First technical directorate awarded Athena Swan

14 Mar 2023 | Advance HE Following a pilot scheme to open the gender equality charter to professional, technical and operational (PTO) directorates, the Technical Services department at the University of Reading has achieved the first-ever PTO award.

A technical services team at the University of Reading is the first professional, technical and operational (PTO) directorate to achieve an Athena Swan award, scoring Silver. 

Under the transformed UK Athena Swan Charter, PTO directorates are supported on a pilot scheme to apply for the award previously only available to academic departments.  

Participants in the pilot are supported to adopt the new framework for PTO staff and offered networking and feedback opportunities to ensure the framework meets the needs of PTO directorates. 

The University of Reading’s Technical Services department was commended for gender equality work including increasing representation of female technicians, reducing gendered occupational segregation in teaching and research activities and the development of a clear career pathway for technical staff. 

Universities and research institutes are not only made up of academic and research staff. They are supported by skilled people in professional, technical and operational roles for whom gender equality matters too.  

“The transformed Charter now encourages institutions to consider both academic and PTO staff in their submissions and for the first time PTO directorates can apply for their own Athena Swan award.  

“Many congratulations to the Technical Services department at the University of Reading on achieving the first-ever PTO directorate award.” 

Dani Glazzard, Head of Athena Swan UK

We were delighted when the opportunity to apply for an Athena Swan award for PTO staff arose.  

“The transformation of the Charter and support provided by the PTO pilot scheme have enabled the recognition of our gender equality work. This inclusion in the scheme demonstrates to staff and students that gender equality is equally important for people in all roles at universities and research institutes. The achievement of a Silver award has been met with great excitement by everyone who contributed to our submission.” 

Dr Karen Henderson, Director of Technical Services at the University of Reading

The transformed UK Athena Swan Charter builds on the strengths of the existing framework to create a Charter that is more flexible, transparent and supportive to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the higher education and research sectors. 

A report on the outcome of the pilot for PTO directorates will be published in early 2024. 


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