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Athena Swan silver award

University recognised for its commitment to tackling gender inequality

Published on: 28 April 2016

Newcastle University has been given a coveted Athena SWAN Silver award for its work to address the underrepresentation of women in higher education.

The award means the University joins an elite group of nine universities holding Silver institution awards.

The Athena SWAN Charter was established by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) in 2005 to advance the careers of women working in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine. It was recently expanded to include arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law.

Professor Judith Rankin, Dean of Diversity, Newcastle University, said: “This award is a reflection of our commitment to addressing gender equality and to support the employment and career progression of female staff across the University.

“The dedication, ideas, and hard work of staff and students have been instrumental in us achieving this award.I am especially delighted that Newcastle University is one of only nine universities that have attained a Silver award. This gives us a strong foundation for our continued effort to improve the prospects for women working at the University. The challenge is now to ensure all staff benefit from improvements in our policies and practice, as we work together, to deliver our ambitious action plan over the next three years.”  

Supporting female staff

Among the initiatives the University has introduced to support female staff is a Women into Leadership working group to make leadership roles more attractive to them. It also has an ambitious target to have women make up at least 30% of the professoriate by 2021. This is already having a positive impact, with year-on-year increases in the number of female professors - from a rate of 21.7% in 2012 rising to 25.1% in 2015.

Other examples of good practice include improved support for women returning from maternity leave and investment in training and professional development.

Seventeen individual schools within the University already hold Athena SWAN departmental awards, including five silver and twelve bronze awards. The majority of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine departments hold an award and others across the University are working towards submitting applications. 

Ruth Gilligan, ECU’s Athena SWAN manager said: “It is encouraging to see universities engaging with the Athena SWAN Charter across disciplines. We’ve seen the impact of the Charter for academic women in science and for their departments over the past ten years.

“Our Athena SWAN Charter is a catalyst for real change within individual departments and whole institutions. It is important that we recognise the work already undertaken to support gender equality for staff in professional and support roles, and can inspire more to be done in the future.”


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