Promoting women in science — School of Physics and Astronomy receives accolade

01 Sep 2010 06:52:30.663

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The University of Nottingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy has been highlighted for its work in promoting the career progression of female academics and researchers.

The School has been awarded a silver Athena SWAN Charter award, which rewards excellent practice in female career progression within science, engineering and technology (SET) departments. The Athena SWAN Charter, funded by the Equality Challenge Unit and the UK Research Council, aims to encourage institutions to recruit, retain and promote women in SET in higher education and research.

The School starts at an early stage when it comes to promoting academic careers to women in its field, investing heavily in outreach programmes encouraging teenage girls to take science subjects at GCSE and A Level. Physics and Astronomy has also recruited more fellows to the University Anne McLaren Fellowship scheme than any other school. These Fellowships are targeted at excellent female postdoctoral researchers in science and engineering. 

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The School is also working to increase the number of female undergraduate students it recruits. A significant increase in the proportion of female students accepting places has been recorded following changes made to UCAS recruitment open days.

Professor Richard Bowtell, Head of School, said: “We are very proud to receive this award, which recognises the School’s commitment to ensuring that women and men can achieve success in physics-related careers.”

This isn’t the first time the University has been recognised in this way. In previous years the School of Pharmacy, School of Psychology and Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering have been commended for their work in improving women’s career progression.

Professor Karen Cox, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Human Resources, said: “The University of Nottingham is committed to increasing the number of women working in science, engineering and technology at all levels within the institution. This recognition of the excellent work being carried out within Physics and Astronomy is very welcome news.”

Athena SWAN Charter Co-ordinator Sarah Hawkes said: “World-class SET research is key for the prosperity of not only the higher education sector, but also the wider British economy. Science cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population, and until men and women can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords.”

The awards will be presented at the Royal Society, London, on Thursday 16 September. Other universities receiving awards include the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and the University of York.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.

The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.

Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives ( in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.

The Athena SWAN Charter is a prestigious external benchmark by which universities can measure how inclusive their working practices are. It also provides an opportunity for universities to promote their good practice to a wider audience.






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Tara De Cozar

Tara De Cozar - Internal Communications Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8560 Location: University Park

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