School of Dental Sciences

Athena SWAN

Athena SWAN


Athena SWAN recognises commitment to advancing women’s careers in higher education employment.

It relates to those working in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine). The charter celebrates female academics and:

  • good working practices
  • gender equality
  • career progression

Bronze award

Newcastle University is the holder of a Bronze Institutional Athena SWAN award. It demonstrates the University has a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias.

It shows we're developing a culture that is inclusive and values all staff. In 2015, 113 higher education institutions, research institutes, schools and departments, received awards.

School success

The School of Dental Sciences achieved an Athena SWAN Bronze award. This is the result of hard work and dedication by the School.

Our Athena Swan self-assessment team and other staff helped with the application. They helped submit a comprehensive application document and action plan.

Action plan

We're keen to deliver on our action plan of:

  • promoting and encouraging equality within the School
  • combating under-representation
  • advancing the careers of women

Self-assessment team

Membership of the self-assessment team:

Dr Paula Waterhouse (Chair and academic lead)
Mrs Jill Smith (Administrative lead)
Professor Jimmy Steele
Dr Ruth Valentine
Dr Justin Durham
Dr Nick Jakubovics
Mrs Rhiannon O’Connor
Dr Rebecca Wassall
Mrs Jill Lloyd
Dr Sarah Rolland
Dr Luisa Wakeling

Working group

We are part of the Dental Schools Council. It has formed a working group with the Medical Schools Council focusing on women in academia.

The working group published a final report entitled Women in Clinical Academia (PDF: 505KB).

More information

Find out more about Newcastle University Athena Swan.

The logo for the Athena Swan Bronze award.

Staff Profiles

Find out about how our employment practices have supported our staff.

Charlotte Currie‌

Charlotte Currie

I’m a Clinical Fellow in Oral Surgery at Newcastle Dental School.  A career in academic dentistry first appealed to me after completing a vacation research project after my second year of dental school.  Following this I decided to take a year out of my dental studies to intercalate and complete a Master of Research degree, confirming my desire to follow the academic career pathway.

Once graduating from my BDS degree I completed my foundation dental training over a two year general professional training post at Newcastle, working in both primary and secondary care.  Following this I was awarded my clinical fellow post.  I am currently working towards my PhD, before completing speciality training in oral surgery. 

Rhiannon O’Connor

Rhiannon O'Connor

I'm a Clinical Fellow in Restorative Dentistry at Newcastle Dental School. I feel my academic career progression has always been supported by the school.

I was an undergraduate here (graduating 2009) before progressing to my current role. The school has always encouraged and supported my progression into an academic career.

Feeling supported

It works hard to help me balance commitments in research, teaching and clinical development. I went on maternity leave early in 2015. The management team were proactive in keeping in touch while I was away. They have supported my return to work and management of my work and family commitments.

Ashleigh Stamp‌

Ashleigh Stamp

I am a Clinical Fellow at Newcastle Dental School, working across the Departments of Sedation, Child Dental Health and Restorative Dentistry.  After graduating from Newcastle Dental School in 2010, I worked across a number of dental settings within primary and secondary care before returning in 2014 as a part-time Clinical Fellow.  Recognising that I enjoyed my new role, the school supported my transition into academia and I became a full time Clinical Fellow in 2015.  


As a young clinical academic, there are a number of women who I look up to within the School of Dental Sciences, providing inspiration and proof that I can balance being a dental professional alongside a family life.  Using their experience and expertise, they have helped me to develop ways to balance my commitments in research and teaching whilst also encouraging and helping me to remain clinically active as a dentist.

Rebecca Wassall

Rebecca Wassall

I am a Clinical Lecturer. I conduct research in an National Institute for Health Research transitional research fellowship. I also provide clinical specialist training in special care dentistry. 

I have worked within the school since 2004, first as a Clinical Fellow and now as a Clinical Lecturer. I support the work of the school in helping to promote women working in science. 

Tackling equality

I am aware of the challenges which remain for women working in dentistry and academia. The school has impressed me in tackling these issues with enthusiasm.

Challenges I faced centre on balancing a demanding career with caring for three children. I was supported by the school during two maternity career breaks, one in 2004 and the other in 2011.

Back in 2004, there was a clear lack of female senior academics within the school. I lacked a mentor and felt isolated on my return to work.

Access to senior female academics

I balanced full-time hours and caring for twins with long-term conditions due to premature birth. In contrast, in 2011 I have benefitted from access to a variety of female senior academic role models

They have come from within the school and as a result of stronger and more tangible links with NHS staff. This has enabled me to gain a better understanding of my role within the school.

It allows me to work more effectively to develop this role. I can better meet my personal aspirations as a mother and an aspiring clinical academic.

Ruth Valentine

Ruth Valentine

Ruth is a Senior Lecturer. She joined the school in 2007 as a lecturer and gained promotion in 2010. Ruth has benefitted from the School’s supportive working environment

Childcare commitments

She has had two periods of maternity leave but is able to balance her work and family commitments. She can alter her working hours to fit with childcare commitments

In addition to her research and teaching commitments, Ruth is the School admissions tutor.