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 2018 the Department of English and Related Literature received an Athena Swan Bronze Award in recognition of our commitment to gender equality. As part of our application, the Department developed a detailed Action Plan. Our departmental Athena Swan Steering Group, 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 Steering Group is chaired by Dr Hannah Roche (

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 Steering Group has taken an intersectional approach, considering questions of disability, race, religion or belief, class, sexual orientation, and age. The Department is also pleased to be working closely with the Students’ Union (YUSU) on an innovative pilot project to give our students a greater voice in ensuring diversity and representation in our curriculum.

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

Our achievements

  • All job advertisements demonstrate a commitment to gender inclusivity, and all recruitment panel members undertake Unconscious Bias training.
  • The Department’s workload model has been redesigned as an hours-based system that gives full credit for the time that each task takes.
  • The Admissions Team has embedded a mechanism for ensuring gender balance in marketing materials.
  • We have elected a departmental Equality and Diversity Champion.
  • Our Equality and Diversity Champion and Chair of the Athena Swan Steering Group have organised 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.
  • A Decolonising Network was established in Summer 2020. In Spring 2018/19, the Department joined forces with the YUSU Student Voice Team to pilot a ‘Students as Consultants’ project. This initiative brought together students and staff to explore a common commitment to racially inclusive and diverse teaching practices in the Department.
  • 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.