Accessibility statement

York’s support of women in science recognised with second Gold award

Posted on 1 May 2014

The University of York has become one of the first universities in the UK to hold two Gold Athena SWAN awards for its commitment to women in science.

York’s Department of Biology has secured the top award in the latest round of awards announced today, following in the footsteps of the trailblazing Department of Chemistry - the first science department in the country to win a gold award in 2007. Chemistry has also seen its gold status reaffirmed.  

The Athena SWAN Awards recognise success in developing employment practices to further and support the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) departments in academia.

An independent evaluation by Loughborough University - also launched today - shows that membership of the Athena SWAN Charter helps to advance women’s careers and has a positive impact on changing the culture and attitudes in member institutions.

The latest awards round has seen the University of York’s institutional Bronze award renewed, as well as Bronze awards for the Department of Mathematics and the Hull York Medical School (HYMS). These are in addition to existing awards for the Departments of Psychology and Physics (Silver Awards) and the Departments of Computer Science, Health Sciences and Electronics (Bronze Awards).

Queen’s University Belfast is the only other UK University to hold two Gold awards.

Professor Deborah Smith, York’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said:  "We are thrilled that our commitment and efforts to remove the barriers to women’s progress in science, engineering and technology have been recognised. We work hard to attract women into science, both in academic and technical capacities. We are also seeking to retain those women who might otherwise leave by introducing more flexibility into the workforce - and, at the same time, creating a better work environment for all staff."

Commenting on the Department of Biology’s Gold Award, Professor Jane Hill, Athena SWAN champion in Biology said: "We are delighted that our actions have resulted in gender parity in academic appointments over the past few years. Approximately 30 per cent of our professors are women, a proportion that is rarely exceeded in science departments in the UK. This Gold award recognises the supportive culture in the Department that helps all staff and students reach their full potential."

Professor Ian Graham, Head of the Department of Biology, said: "We are proud to have received this award. It reflects our continuing commitment to Athena SWAN principles, which have become embedded in all aspects of Departmental life. But we are also aware that there is still more to be done and we have new actions that will allow us to continue making progress in future."

Overall, 125 departments and universities submitted for an Athena SWAN award in this round, and 89 were successful.  The awards will be presented at a special ceremony on 10 July at Durham University.

For more information about Athena SWAN visit

Notes to editors:

  • The Athena SWAN Charter is owned by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU). It is funded by ECU, the Department of Health, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Royal Society, the Scottish Funding Council and the Biochemical Society
  • ECU works to further and support equality and diversity for staff and students in HE across all four nations of the UK, and in the college sector in Scotland.