Accessibility statement

The Equality and Diversity Committee

Athena Swan Bronze Award

The Equality and Diversity Committee works to ensure that the Department of Environment and Geography embraces, celebrates and raises awareness of equality, inclusion and diversity. We identify barriers that prevent us from reaching our full potential as a department and create solutions to overcome those barriers.

We have enthusiastically adopted the Athena SWAN charter of good employment practice for women working in science, engineering and technology in Universities. We were delighted to receive the Bronze Athena SWAN Award in 2014, which was renewed in 2017, in recognition of the support we offer to all staff in the Department. To support the career development needs of all staff, we advocate flexible and part-time working patterns where possible, and provide mentoring and regular performance reviews.

Department of Environment and Geography Bronze Award

The Department of Environment and Geography Bronze Award submission documents are available from the University Research Athena Swan pages.

Bronze department awards recognise that in addition to university-wide policies, the department has identified particular challenges and is planning activities for the future. This includes: an assessment of where the department is regarding gender equality in quantitative (staff and student data) and qualitative (policies, practices, systems and arrangements) terms, identifying both challenges and opportunities; a plan that builds on the assessment, the activities that are already in place and what has been learnt from these; and an organisational structure (the self assessment team) to carry proposed actions forward.

Full details are available on the Athena SWAN website.


The Department's Athena SWAN committee meets regularly to discuss equality and diversity issues. We feed into a number of other departmental and University committees to ensure that we are making progress in implementing the Action Plan we set out in our Bronze award application.

Our committee members cover a range of roles in the department: academic, technical, support, PhD students and postdocs; levels of experience and personal circumstances.

Best Practice

Our Athena SWAN committee keeps practices and procedures within the Department under review, to consider ways of improving these to ensure fairness for all staff and students and raise awareness of equality and diversity. Examples of best practice are already embedded in many of the Department's activities:

  • The department is highly supportive of requests for part-time and flexible working.
  • Our Action Plan was informed by our staff equality survey.
  • Our departmental meetings and seminars are within core working hours.
  • A work allocation model for academic staff continues to be developed, to improve transparency of workload management and to ensure fair recognition of all work performed inside and outside the department.
  • We have an internal Promotions Committee which has a remit to provide advice and encouragement for those Academic, Research and Teaching staff who are considering submitting a case for promotion.

Athena Swan

The Athena SWAN Charter is a scheme which recognises excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education. The Charter was launched in June 2005.

The beliefs underpinning the Charter are:

  • The advancement of science, engineering and technology (SET) is fundamental to quality of life across the globe.
  • It is vitally important that women are adequately represented in what has traditionally been, and is still, a male-dominated area.
  • Science cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population, and until women and men can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords.

To be successful, applicants to the charter mark need to undertake detailed analysis of their practices, enabling them to plan measurable action that makes a real impact.

The Department of Environment and Geography received its first bronze award in September 2014, which was renewed in September in 2017. 

Family Friendly

We operate a family-friendly culture, including arrangements for part-time working, annualised hours and flexi-time. There are many examples of successful part time working across different job roles. There is a commitment to equal opportunities from the Department Management Team.

Case Studies

Several of our staff have benefited from the Department's supportive policies.

Nancy Baines - Support Staff

Nancy Baines and her children

Nancy Baines is a member of support staff working with students to increase their links with employers through internships and graduate roles as well as managing our Year in Industry programme in the Department. She has worked with us since August 2014.

'Since working for the Department of Environment and Geography my contractual hours have been increased from 50% to 80% FTE on my request when my youngest daughter started full time education. The fact that the Department considered and granted this change in working hours had a large positive impact on me personally as well as my ability to provide a more comprehensive service to our students. As a working mother with two school aged children I really value the support that I gain from both my line manager and the Department in terms of my working arrangements. Being able to work flexibly allows me to manage those unexpected times when I am needed at home as well as enabling me to arrange my work diary such that I can take on additional responsibilities associated with my children's upbringing, for example being a school governor. The sense of value that comes from being trusted to manage my own time really adds to the satisfaction of my working and personal life.'

Kate Arnold - Reader

Kate Arnold with her daughter

Dr Kathryn Arnold is a Senior Lecturer in ecology and leads the Ecology and Conservation research group in the Department. She an elected member of the Sciences Faculty Board and chairs the Department's Athena SWAN committee. She studied Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia, UK and received her PhD from the University of Queensland, Australia. After holding research positions in Australia and the UK, she was awarded a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship. She became a Lecturer in 2013 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2015. In 2018, Kathryn was promoted to Reader. Over the last ten years, she has worked part-time ranging from 50% to 80% depending on the needs of her family. 

Hill, Jon

Contact details

Dr Jon Hill
Chair of Department's Equality and Diversity Committee and Senior Lecturer
Department of Environment and Geography
Wentworth Way
University of York
YO10 5NG

Tel: 01904324480
Fax: 01904322998


‘We have always striven to provide a supportive and family-friendly work environment and to offer equal opportunities to all staff and students. I am delighted to see this underlying ethos reflected in the Bronze Athena SWAN award.’

Head of Department, Professor Mark Hodson