Posted on 13 April 2012
The Departments of Physics, Psychology and Computer Science have all been granted awards under the national scheme, which recognises and celebrates good practice on recruiting, retaining and promoting women in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) in higher education.
We are committed to ensuring consistency of experience for staff at all levels within the Department, particularly in induction, appraisal and support for professional development
Professor Sarah Thompson, Head of Physics
Physics has received a Silver award, while Psychology’s Silver award – which it has held continuously since 2007 – has been renewed. The Department of Computer Science has received a Bronze award.
Silver department awards recognise that in addition to institution-wide policies, the department has a significant record of activity and achievement in supporting the careers of female scientists and can demonstrate their impact so far.
Professor Quentin Summerfield, Head of Psychology, said: “We are very pleased that our continued commitment to supporting women in the Department has been recognised. The Department has traditionally had a low turnover of staff, but there has been an active programme of recruitment over the last five years or so, prompted by an ambitious expansion plan and a wave of retirements in senior academic staff.
“Many of the newly-recruited members of our Department are female and with this changing profile, the Athena SWAN objectives are highly relevant: the Department will support this group of women and ensure that they progress to more senior academic roles, able to sustain and lead the cutting-edge research programme that the Department prides itself on.”
The Department of Psychology has introduced a range of innovative schemes to support the development of all its academic staff. These include an Early Career Researchers’ Forum, led by postdoctoral researchers, which hosts events focussing on skills, careers and work-life balance issues; a research mentorship programme for junior faculty; and deputy roles for key departmental committees, which allow academic staff to gain managerial experience to boost their prospects of promotion.
Professor Sarah Thompson, Head of Physics, said: “The Physics Silver award is the result of the hard work of the Departmental Equality Committee. The committee helps the Department provide a working environment where all staff are encouraged to work to their full potential and are rewarded without regard to gender, race, age, sexual orientation, disability or belief.
“We are committed to ensuring consistency of experience for staff at all levels within the Department, particularly in induction, appraisal and support for professional development. Flexible and part-time working are accommodated at the University when possible. In recent years, we have had academic and research staff on part-time contracts, job-share arrangements and on career breaks, all arranged to meet the personal circumstances or career development of individuals.”
Bronze department awards recognise that in addition to institution-wide policies, the department has identified particular challenges and is planning activities to address these in the future.
Professor John McDermid, Head of Computer Science, said: “Women are very under-represented in computer science across the UK, with typically only 10% of academic staff being female. We have many excellent female staff in the Department, and I am delighted that our efforts to support them, and to encourage others into the discipline, have been recognised in this way.
“We offer flexibility, eg through part-time working, flexible hours, which are of benefit to all staff, and seek to help research staff in career development. We are also pleased that we have significantly increased the number of female undergraduates in recent years, as they will, in time, form the core of the profession. Few computer science departments have received Athena Swan awards; we hope that our success will both encourage staff in York, and in the wider academic community.”
Athena SWAN is jointly owned by Equality Challenge Unit and the UKRC. It is funded by Equality Challenge Unit, the Royal Society, Biochemical Society and the Department of Health.
The three new awards are in addition to York’s existing Athena SWAN awards. The University as a whole holds a Bronze award, while Chemistry is the only Department in the UK ever to receive a Gold award. The Department of Biology holds a Silver award.