The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 by the Equality Challenge Unit and is awarded to organisations for their commitment to, and progress on, gender equality. The Charter initially set out to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. This was extended in 2015 to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law, and for those working in professional and support roles.
The Chair of Leeds Beckett’s Athena SWAN Steering Group and Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Andrew Slade, said: “We are delighted to have been successful in achieving Bronze charter status, as we continue to enhance the representation of both women and men within the working environment across the University. The motivation for submitting our application is to promote gender equality and improve career and development opportunities for staff. Charter status will help us as we continue to pursue these goals over the coming years.”
The submission compliments the University’s Strategic Plan, in particular, the aim of achieving ‘leading research and academic enterprise’. The institutional award now enables schools to review gender equality and practice at local level in support of their own future submissions.
Benefits of the charter status for staff include changing culture and attitudes, improvements to career satisfaction, creating opportunities for training and development, enhancing knowledge of promotion processes and achieving fairness in the allocation of workload. These benefits extend to men as well as those working in technical and administrative roles.
Equality and Diversity Manager, Katrina Tilbrook, expanded on why Athena SWAN is so important for our us: "Looking at our university custom and practice through an equality charter like Athena SWAN can have real impact on our staff experience. It gives us the means to identify good practice and look at ways to share this more widely and it also highlights where we need to do more. For example, if you’ve been away from work for a number of months many things will have changed when you return. We expect people to slot back in but this can be very hard. A return to work mentoring scheme has just been established and we’re now developing guidance for individuals and managers about how they can support people returning from a career break. Specific actions like these are what the charters are for and we can only recognise or change how we do things if we’ve looked at our policies and practice through an equality lens."
Dr Ruth Gilligan, ECU’s Athena SWAN Manager said: “All applicants in this awards round have shown great commitment to and progress in addressing inequalities in policies, practices and culture, and join a vibrant community in higher education. Equality Challenge Unit and I would like to congratulate all Athena SWAN awards winners on their achievements towards gender equality.”
Professor Slade added: “This bronze award recognises the efforts we are making to address issues identified through our action plan. We are already making progress with supporting women returners and a renewed emphasis on promotion and career development but we know there is more to do. Our Athena SWAN Steering Group will continue to implement and develop our action plan. The Schools of Clinical and Applied Science, Cultural Studies and Humanities and Social Sciences are all planning local submissions from 2018 as we deliver our commitment to the wider Athena SWAN principles.”
For more information about Leeds Beckett’s commitment to gender equality, please visit the Athena SWAN page.
For more information about the Athena SWAN charter, visit the Equality Challenge Unit website.