Athena SWAN 

ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 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.

Monday 11 September 2017 marked the 10 year anniversary of the Department of Chemistry’s first Athena SWAN Gold Award, which recognises 'significant and sustained progression and achievement in promoting gender equality'. This was the first Gold award to be awarded nationally, giving the Department immediate beacon status for its good equality practice.

The award was renewed in 2010 and 2015. In May 2019, the department received its first Athena SWAN Gold Award under the revised charter, making it the longest held Gold Award nationally.

Celebrating 10 years

The Department celebrated our long standing Gold award by hosting and engaging in an array of events in 2017 and 2018:

  • In September 2017 we held an informal drinks reception for all staff, where Professor Robin Perutz and Professor Paul Walton looked back on the diversity work they have led.
  • In November 2017, we were part of a beacon event at the RSC, Burlington House.
  • We were the host of the annual LGBT+ STEMinar in January 2018.
  • In April 2018, Professor Ellie Highwood, Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and Professor of Climate Physics at the University of Reading, joined us in the Department to give the talk: From dust to diversity... adventures in atmospheric science and equality.
  • On 16 May 2018 Professor Carolyn Bertozzi from Stanford University was the keynote lecturer at a scientific symposium celebrating excellence and diversity in science.
  • Professor Carolyn Bertozzi also gave a free public lecture on 17 May 2018: The long game of STEM diversification.


Our aims and achievements

Our aims

Our aims

Our most recent Athena SWAN submission and Action Plan is here: Successful October 2015 Gold Athena SWAN Renewal submission (PDF , 5,969kb)

Some of our strategic aims/objectives are:

  • To continue to increase the percentage of female staff in all categories, with the objective of having 25% of female professorial staff by 2020
  • To have 45% research staff by 2020
  • To identify the reasons behind and to reduce the pay gaps in all main categories of staff (to less than 5% for professorial staff and <10% for support staff by 2020)
  • To develop more gender champions and advocates both within and outside the department, with particular focus on capitalising on our beacon status nationally and internationally
  • To extend our equality work into other equality dimensions
  • To bring gender parity to our u/g school, exploring innovative means such as a review the content of option modules on our course and examine for any gender bias
  • To establish gender parity in our graduate school
  • To extend our unconscious bias observer scheme for recruitment selection panels
  • Have at least 40% female seminar speakers and 30% female PhD external examiners

Our Equality and Diversity strategy is informed by our surveys, accurate data/statistics and their analysis and is focused on clear, measurable and ambitious targets.

Our work is underpinned at all levels by the evidence from the social sciences. This evidence has been drawn from a variety of sources, several of which have been discussed at length by the Equality and Diversity Group. For instance, our focus on unconscious bias stems from well-established psychology studies. In another example, our focus on "quality over quantity" is evidenced by studies in academic behaviour on publishing. Our approach to academic appointments is informed by the known pitfalls of assessing applicants whilst under stress. 

We recognise our particular responsibility to act as a beacon department for equality practice. We specifically see this promotion extending into subjects beyond STEM, into HEI management, professional societies and onto an international stage.

Our achievements

Our achievements

  • Introduced diversity training for all UG and PG students
  • Introduced Departmental maternity, paternity and adoption guidelines
  • Held a Departmental Culture Survey for all staff and students
  • Hosted the Joliot-Curie Conference 2016 and LGBT+ STEMinar 2018
  • Increased uptake of part-time and flexible working by both men and women
  • 100% return rate from maternity leave
  • Improvements in induction for new staff including allocation of mentor and inclusion of information on inclusivity
  • Revised advertising material to include more equality information
  • Introduction of researchers forum and increased researcher representation on committees
  • Equality and Diversity brief for Academic Group leaders including unconscious bias training for Academic Group Leaders
  • Held a departmental LGBT+ survey and identified LGBT+ contacts
  • Introduction of a Quiet Room for staff
  • Unconscious bias awareness and training activities held for all recruitment panels
  • Unconscious bias observers now observe and advice recruitment panels for all departmental vacancies