Accessibility statement

Equality and Good Practice in the Department of Mathematics


The Department of Mathematics is committed to equality and diversity whilst ensuring that there are no barriers for anyone irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, disability or other characteristics.

We aim to provide a supportive working environment that encourages all students and members of staff to fulfil their potential and achieve their ambitions. We support flexible and part-time working and, where possible, arrange departmental meetings within core hours. The Department provides mentoring for new staff and post-docs as well as monitoring individuals' career progression, aiming to identify and encourage promotion candidates.

The department recognises the importance of equal participation of both men and women and is committed to the Athena SWAN Charter which focuses on ensuring gender equality. The department currently holds an Athena Swan Bronze Award.

Equality and diversity activities within the Department are driven by the Mathematics Equality and Good Practice Committee, which is made up of both staff and student representatives.  The group meets regularly with the aim to align the activities of the department with those of the University to ensure that we are working towards the University's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Head of Department

Head of Department's view

Professor Niall MacKay, Head of Department, says, "The department is absolutely committed to supporting (especially young, especially women) academics to reach their full career potential. This requires a flexible, supportive and collegial environment, above all through periods of two-body problems or caring commitments. The department has, I believe, an exemplary record of making special arrangements to accommodate such matters. My goal is to build a departmental culture of collegiality, support and encouragement, in which mutual confidence and aid, combined with the valuing of individual perspectives, enable people to do their best possible work. Building a department in which everyone can give their best, on timescales on which academic careers, groups and departments thrive, is in everyone’s interests."


The Equality and Good Practice Committee

The Department's Equality and Good Practice Committee aims to:

  • promote good practice and address the under-representation of women in mathematics;
  • ensure a supportive culture for all staff at all levels;
  • increase the number of female students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The group is part of the Equality and Good Practice Committee (EGPC). Current members are:

Dr Emilie Dufresne  Dr Emilie Dufresne is a Lecturer in Algebra. She is married to a mathematician at a nearby institution and has a young boy. She is very familier with the challenges of solving a two body problem and navigating the associated complicated logtistics of family life.
Linda Elvin  Linda Elvin works on a job-share basis around family commitments, as P.A. to the Head of Department and Department Manager. Linda and Claire are support staff representative members of the committee
Claire Farrar  Claire Farrar works on a job-share basis around family commitments, as P.A. to the Head of Department and Department Manager. Linda and Claire are support staff representative members of the committee
Dr Annabel Jenkins  Annabel joined the committee as the Departmental Research Committee (DRC) representative in September 2019.
Prof Degui Li  Professor Degui Li joined the department in 2013 after studying in China as a research student and working in a couple of Australian universities as a post-doctoral fellow. He is married with a young daughter.
Prof Niall Mackay  Professor Niall MacKay became Head of Department in October 2015. Until 2010 Niall’s partner was a full-time academic at another UK university,and commuted weekly while their children attended the York Campus Nursery. He was instrumental in the introduction of a salary sacrifice scheme for nursery fees.
Cheri Mussell  Cheri Mussell joined Mathematics as Department Manager in September 2018. She works full time but took the opportunity to reduce her working week whilst her son was at school. Cheri is an ex officio member of the Equality and Good Practice Committee
Chris Oldnall Chris joined the committee as Undergraduate representative in January 2020
Aarti Prajapati Aarti joined the committee as Undergraduate representative in January 2020
Dr Nora Szakacs  Nora Szakacs joined the committee as a post-doctoral representative in September 2019
Matthew Thompson Matthew Thompson joined the committee as Post-Graduate representative in November 2019
Dr Benoit Vicdeo  Benoit joined the committee in September 2019 as an academic representative 
Dr Stefan Weigert  Dr Stefan Weigert has been Chair of the Equality and Good Practice Committee since September 2018 

Athena Swan

Athena Swan


The Department is committed to the Athena SWAN Charter, an initiative set up to advance women's careers in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine and Mathematics) academia, and holds a Bronze Athena SWAN Award. 

Athena SWAN matters are handled by our Equalities and Good Practice Committee, whose remit is to consider all equality- and diversity-related matters, whether of gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, disability or other characteristics.




Athena SWAN Activities


Staff from the department frequently take part in outreach activities, from University open dayssubject taster days and school visits to science trails, public events and a range of popular lectures. Our aim is to promote interest in mathematics, and to encourage more students to study mathematics at A level and beyond. We have a range of activities that cater for school pupils of all ages. See our Schools and Outreach page for further details.

Early Career Support

The Department of Mathematics' Early Career Reseacher Forum is a supportive network of researchers in the early stages of their careers. The Forum provides support in a range of areas relevant to early career researchers, including professional and career development. The Forum also provides valuabel networking opportunities.

Peer Mentoring

The department runs a peer mentoring scheme for 1st year students. Every year a number of current students are recruited to be 'MathSTYCs' (Maths Second or Third Year Contacts) with the main aim of helping 1st year students adjust to university life. Responsibilities of the role include writing a pre-arrival welcome letter, socialising with the new students at our welcome party, running meet and greet sessions in Induction week, attending the first tutorial for Maths Skills 1, helping out at weekly 1st year drop in sessions, making arrangements to meet with the students approximately three times over the course of the first year, helping to signpost new students to sources of support when needed, and working closely with the First Year Transition Officer and Student Administration Manager.

Maths Arcade

The Maths Arcade is an innovative activity with the core aim of developing a staff-student mathematical community.

This is achieved through a weekly drop in session where a wide variety of strategy games and puzzles are available for students to play with each other and with staff. Games and puzzles might be simply played, to develop a mathematical-themed social environment, or strategies and modifications to the rules might be analysed, to develop students’ mathematical thinking. The Maths Arcade also provides an opportunity for peer mentors (called MathSTYCs) to meet their mentees. Hence, the Maths Arcade encourages staff and student interaction in a social and mathematical context.

Furthermore, each semester a number of special theme weeks are held periodically. (Examples include: A visit from a Chess Grand Master; A visit from a Mensa National Finalist of a Maths Arcade game; a speed Rubik’s Cube competition.)

Maths Society

The Maths Society organises a range of events to get students engaged with mathematics and to get to know one another, including weekly "Cake and Calculus sessions and termly pub quizzes.

Women's lunches

Women's lunches arranged by the Athena SWAN working group in the Maths Department have been a great success, providing a way for female PhD students to get to know each other and female members of staff. This can be particularly important for students from some cultural backgrounds. Bring your own lunch - cakes will usually be provided!


Useful Resources


The London Mathematical Society offers grants to enable parents to attend conferences and other research-related meetings or visits by making a contribution towards childcare costs. See Childcare Supplementary Grants for details. The Athena Forum has published clarification on tax exemption for childcare costs incurred while undertaking work-related training. The statement can be found on the Athena Forum website.

External Resources

Athena SWAN charter for Women in Science

Athena SWAN resources

Royal Society unconscious bias animation and briefing

London Mathematical Society: Women in Mathematics Good Practice Scheme

European Platform of Women Scientists

European Women in Mathematics

University of York links

University of York Athena SWAN

University of York Equality and Diversity: gender equality webpages