School of Physics & Astronomy

University of Nottingham recognised for commitment to promoting women in science

The University of Nottingham has been awarded a Silver Athena Scientific Women’s Advancement Network (SWAN) Award. 

The Athena SWAN Charter, launched in June 2005, recognises and awards commitment to advancing women’s careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) disciplines in higher education. The Charter aims to ensure that women are adequately represented in traditionally male-dominated subjects. Research cannot reach its full potential without the talents of the whole population and until men and women are given equally the opportunities which arise. 

The University of Nottingham is only the third university to achieve this award, joining two other UK Universities that hold the same honour — Queen’s University Belfast and Imperial College London. 

Dr Marion Walker MBE, professor in Stroke Rehabilitation at The University of Nottingham said: “The Athena SWAN Silver Award is excellent news for The University of Nottingham. This prestigious award demonstrates our commitment in addressing gender inequalities, changing cultures and attitudes at all levels of the University. We have set ourselves clear objectives for future development and it’s imperative that we deliver these as promised.” 

Obtaining a Silver Athena SWAN Award is not an event but a process. The institution has had to demonstrate previous progress as well as to show it can deliver am ambitious three year action plan that will deliver future improvement. 

The action plan has four principal strategic themes; to ‘Attract and Inspire’ female undergraduate and postgraduate SET students, to ‘Recruit and Retain’ more female early career researchers, to ‘Develop and Promote’ more women in senior academic posts and to ‘Foster Fairness’ in the organisational culture and practices. 

Although the Athena SWAN awards aim to improve the academic careers of women within SET disciplines through improved working practices, Dr Tony Stevens (the Athena Swan Project Officer for the University) notes, “Good working practices benefit everyone. But women will tend to benefit proportionately more. Poor working practices impinge on all staff but tend to disadvantage women to a greater degree.” 

This is not the first time The University of Nottingham has been honoured with an Athena SWAN award. The School of Mathematical Sciences and the School of Community Health Sciences both hold Bronze Awards. The School of Physics and Astronomy, the School of Biosciences, the School of Pharmacy, the School of Psychology and the Faculty of Engineering all hold Silver Awards. 

By 2014, all SET Schools and Faculties within The University of Nottingham will have been through the Athena Awards process. The Medical School too will be applying for a Silver Award in 2014. This is important as Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, has stated that unless Medical Schools hold a Silver Award they will not eligible for National Institute for Health Research Funding. It is likely that other funders may adopt a similar position and so The University of Nottingham is well placed to cope with future change. 

The University of Nottingham will proudly receive this Athena SWAN silver award at a ceremony held at The Royal Society of Edinburgh on Thursday 6 June. 

Posted on Wednesday 1st May 2013

School of Physics and Astronomy

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