Accessibility statement

Gender Equality 

AdvanceHE’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) in higher education and research. In May 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL) and in professional and support roles. The rebranded charter now addresses gender equality more broadly, including issues affecting trans and non-binary staff and students.

In 2024, the Department of English and Related Literature received an Athena Swan Silver Award, following in 2018 Bronze Award, in recognition of our on-going commitment to gender equality. We are one of a very small number of English departments in the UK to achieve this award and are proud of our accomplishment. As part of our application, the Department developed a detailed Athena Swan Action Plan (PDF , 106kb). Our departmental Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team, which brings together academic staff, professional and support staff, and undergraduate and postgraduate students, is currently working to implement the Action Plan. You can check our progress under ‘Achievements’.

Our Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team is chaired by Dr Jane Raisch (

Our aims and achievements

Our aims

While the Athena Swan framework has gender as its central focus, our commitment to equality and diversity is wide-reaching, taking in all protected characteristics. Our departmental SSelf-Assessment Team has taken an intersectional approach, considering questions of disability, race, religion or belief, class, sexual orientation, and age. 

We are proud to be an open and inclusive department, and we remain firmly committed to giving all of our students and our staff the support and structures that will allow them to excel.

Our achievements

  • Our Athena Swan Chair sits on all key, strategic departmental committees to embed Athena Swan principles of equity and equality within departmental governance 
  • Our Professional Support Staff are visible and vocal members of our departmental committees with active roles in shaping departmental governance
  • Anonymous workload data is shared with staff across the department to ensure workloads are fair and balanced
  • Staff mentorship and probationary reviews are consistently implemented and form a cornerstone of our commitment to staff development and support
  • Our foreign and international students know how to find the materials they need for the course before coming to York, and have contacts in place should they have questions
  • All job advertisements demonstrate a commitment to gender inclusivity, and all recruitment panel members undertake Unconscious Bias training.
  • The Admissions Team has embedded a mechanism for ensuring gender balance in marketing materials.
  • The Department organises events for Black History Month, York LGBT History Month, World Mental Health Day, and International Women’s Day.
  • A departmental Race and Representation Working Group was established in Spring 2020.
  • Confidence training has been integrated into the undergraduate programme.
  • All new modules demonstrate a commitment to Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion.
  • A departmental ECR Forum has been established to provide guidance and support for Early Career Researchers, including those on fixed-term contracts.

Family Friendly Working

As part of the Department’s commitment to fostering a culture of equality and inclusivity, innovative working practices have been introduced.

The Department supports a healthy work-life balance. We encourage the use of flexible working arrangements through a flexible working scheme (requiring a contractual change) or flexi-time scheme (no contractual change needed). This includes:

  • Part-time
  • Job-share or job-split
  • Term-time only working
  • Staggered hours
  • Unpaid leave
  • Career breaks

Overcoming barriers

The Department strives to overcome barriers to flexible working by ensuring that hours are family-friendly. In the planning of Departmental meetings and seminars we try to be aware of the working patterns of members of staff with family. We work with the Timetabling team to ensure that impromptu requests to accommodate school hours and family duties within the academic timetable can be agreed.