University and three schools achieve Athena SWAN awards

The University and three of its schools have attained Athena SWAN bronze awards in recognition of a commitment to improving gender equality.

As well as the institution-wide award, it was announced today that the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics, the School of Engineering and the School of Psychology had also met the rigorous standards demanded by the Athena SWAN charter.  

The awards are a validation of the University’s action plan for improving representation of women in higher education and research.  

The University has been an Athena SWAN member since 2009, an early signatory of the charter that sets out ten key principles around gender equality and representation in academia. In May 2015, the charter was expanded to cover a broader range of subject areas and roles, including professional services, together with commitments to consider intersectionality and support trans staff and students.

The awards represent further success for the University, following bronzes for the School of Health Professions and the School of Nursing and Midwifery gained in April this year, and a silver for the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (then Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry) and bronze for the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences in April 2017.  

Professor Dafydd Moore is University Executive Group Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. He said: 

“This is a fantastic achievement for the schools and the University, and I’d like to thank all the colleagues whose efforts have resulted in this recognition. A huge amount of work goes into these submissions, but that time is well spent in identifying the ways in which we can help the University and all our staff reach their full potential.”

Read more about Athena SWAN at the University.

Athena SWAN principles

Athena SWAN members sign up to the Athena SWAN Charter. The principles of the charter were expanded in May 2015 to reflect the broader its broader focus on gender equity, and the following ten principles that underpin the work that we're doing and reflective framework we used to review the impact of our work in higher education generally in relation to gender equality.

The Charter’s ten principles are:

1. We acknowledge that academia cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of all.

2. We commit to advancing gender equality in academia, in particular, addressing the loss of women across the career pipeline and the absence of women from senior academic, professional and support roles.

3. We commit to addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional and support functions. In this we recognise disciplinary differences including:

a. the relative underrepresentation of women in senior roles in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL)

b. the particularly high loss rate of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).

4. We commit to tackling the gender pay gap.

5. We commit to removing the obstacles faced by women, in particular, at major points of career development and progression including the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career.

6. We commit to addressing the negative consequences of using short-term contracts for the retention and progression of staff in academia, particularly women.

7. We commit to tackling the discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people.

8. We acknowledge that advancing gender equality demands commitment and action from all levels of the organisation and in particular active leadership from those in senior roles.

9. We commit to making and mainstreaming sustainable structural and cultural changes to advance gender equality, recognising that initiatives and actions that support individuals alone will not sufficiently advance equality.

10. All individuals have identities shaped by several different factors. We commit to considering the intersection of gender and other factors wherever possible. 

Whilst different universities face different challenges in terms of gender equality, all Athena SWAN members are committed to these broad principles.