Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Our Principles

Our key principles are the base to set and achieve our goals and actions.

We have raised awareness of the equality agenda among our postgraduate student group. Female membership of our postgraduate staff-student committee has increased dramatically.

We moved our seminar series from 4pm to 1pm to make it easier for our members with family and other commitments to attend. We also increased the number of presentations by female speakers.

We took action to change a bias towards more men than women speakers at our annual research day. Over the last two years we have moved towards gender balance.

We initiated the University's flexible working policy, by running a pilot in ICaMB. We now encourage our staff to manage their life-work balance by working flexibly, where this is practical.

We initiated the SoapBox Science series in Newcastle to promote women scientists and their research. Those event have been a great success and the ICAMB EDI group is proud to take part every year.

Our goals

Women are under represented among our research and academic staff and the bias increases with grade seniority. Over the last three years, fewer women than men applied for research and academic posts (however, success rates were generally higher for women). To combat this, we are taking targeted action to recruit more women, for example by:

  • making clear our commitment to the principles of the Athena SWAN Charter
  • using fellowship schemes to recruit women 
  • having women on all appointment panels
  • We are providing better support, such as training and mentoring, for our existing staff.
  • We have more men than women on our executive and research strategy committees, but are taking positive action to redress this imbalance.

EDI Group

We are committed to taking action to keep our Institute a fair, equal and inclusive organisation. With members from across the ages and professions, the ICaMB EDI team meets once a month to discuss all matter of EDI issue and more specifically

  • Faculty Athena Swan application
  • Organisation of International Women’s day
  • Organisation of Soapbox Science
  • Provide support to IPA and PANiC groups

These are the members of the Athena SWAN Equality and Diversity Group

  • Dr Lucy Crouch 
  • Prof Colin Harwood Professor Colin Harwood has been at the University for more than 40 years. "I first became aware of the need to be proactive about supporting gender equality more than 10 years ago, while serving on a Norwegian Research Council grant panel. Of course gender equality is only a start, but it made me more conscious of the need to be proactive with respect to both diversity and inclusiveness. I am pleased to see these issues being given considerably more attention in the University, but of course there is still more to do".
  • Joanna Keith (Admin Lead): Institute Manager; member of the Institute Executive Committee and Institute Research Strategy Group.  Joanna has been fully supported throughout her University career by the Institute who have helped guide and support her through her postgraduate studies whilst bringing up a young family and she is now able to move on to a newer stage in her life which involves reducing her working time from 100% FTE to 80% FTE from 1st October 2017.
  • Prof Robert Lightowlers Prof Robert Lightowlers (Institute Head) Bob has been at the University for 29 years and Director of the Institute since Oct 2011. It has been a great pleasure for him to have seen the University and ICaMB become far more aware and proactive regarding equality and diversity issues during his time in Newcastle. He emphasises that this was particularly apparent when he was sensitively supported during a fatal illness in his immediate family a few years ago. 
  • Catherine Pyle (Secretary): Secretary and PA to the director. Catherine has worked at the University for 23 years and in ICaMB for 13 years. She and her University employed husband have seen a major positive shift to support working parents while bringing up two children.
  • Prof Janet Quinn (Chair): Professor of Eukaryotic Microbiology, member of IRSG. Jan has taken two periods of maternity leave and has two school-aged children. She is the Institute’s Women’s Promotion Champion and mentorship co-ordinator.
  • Dr Gabriele Saretzki In addition to being passionate about equality regarding gender, age, race or disability, I also see my role as a link to the part of ICaMB staff which is located at the Campus for Ageing and Vitality where I try to promote the EDI principles and to implement any decisions taken by the committee.
  • Daniela Vollmer: Part-time research technician at ICaMB for 10 years. Without any family support nearby and an husband in academia, working flexibility at ICaMB was a prerequisite for returning to work after a 5 year career-break and still does help balancing family duties and work commitments. 
  • Dr Vinciane Saint-Criq Postdoctoral Research Associate working on airway pathophysiology in Cystic Fibrosis in Mike Gray's lab and joined the E&D group to offer a non-British, fixed-term contract postdoc perspective.
  • Dr Elisabeth Lowe
  • Yasmin Ahmed:Currently a full time PhD research student in the lab of Professor Jan Quinn and joined SAT to offer a PhD student perspective.
  • Seann Keith
  • Katherina Trunk  Part time postdoctoral research associate in Prof Janet Quinn's lab. Katharina appreciates being able to work 80 % as well as flexible hours as this allows her to enjoy both her research and family life.

Athena SWAN

ICaMB aims to provide a good working environment for our staff and follows the main guidelines of the Athena Swan Charter, advocating equality and diversity for all members.

We are proud that we have been awarded an Athena SWAN (Scientific Women's Academic Network) silver award in 2019 as part of the Athena SWAN Charter. The Award recognises good employment practice and the promotion of women working in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine.

The Faculty of Medical Science’s application for the Athena SWAN Silver award was submitted in 2018. We identified areas where we need to improve and many elements of good practice, and used the results of our staff survey to inform some of our actions.

For further information on the Athena SWAN Charter for Women in Science, please go to the Athena SWAN website.

The Charter is managed by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU). It is funded by ECU, the Royal Society, the Biochemical Society and the Department of Health.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions that are relevant to how we should best prosecute the Athena Swan concepts within the institute, contact any member of our Steering Group.

Submitted Athena Swan application

Soapbox Science

Female Scientist showcase their research to the public.

Newcastle University has hosted Soapbox Science for a fourth year in 2018. Inspirational female Scientists from Newcastle showed of their soapboxes and wowed the local community with their cutting edge science!

The free event is planned to come back in 2019 and a is fantastic opportunity to meet and interact with local Scientists!

To find out more about Soap Box science visit their webpage: Soapbox.

Female Scientist showcase their research to the public.

Scientist demonstrates her research