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York’s support of women in science recognised with Gold Athena SWAN award renewal

Posted on 1 October 2015

The University of York’s Department of Chemistry has had its Athena SWAN Gold award renewed for a further three years, making it the longest held recipient of the Gold award on record.

Chemistry student

The Athena SWAN awards recognise commitment to tackling gender inequality in higher education, celebrating good practice in recruiting, retaining and supporting the careers of women in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET).

York’s Department of Chemistry was the first in the UK to obtain the Gold award in 2007, before achieving a renewal in 2010. Today’s announcement of a second renewal marks eight years of award retention – the only department in the country to stay this long at Gold level.

Professor Duncan Bruce, Head of York’s Department of Chemistry, said: “This is the most wonderful news for the Department and for all the members of the Equality and Diversity Group, for whom this result is just reward for a huge amount of work in preparing the application.

“Over the years, we have begun to embed principles of equality into everything we do and, as we move forward, we shall develop further positive approaches to the growing agenda around diversity, too. The award does not mark an end, rather the beginning, of a commitment to actions in the coming years that will enable us to position ourselves even better to address gender equality. This work will influence our approach to everything that we do.”

Professor Paul Walton, Professor in York’s Department of Chemistry, Chair of the Department's Equality and Diversity Group and an internationally renowned speaker on gender equality issues in science, said: “We are very pleased indeed to have our achievements in gender equality recognised with the first ever gold award in 2007 and now a second renewal eight years later. It shows that culture change can be achieved and, most importantly, maintained."

Dr Helen Coombs, Departmental Manager in York’s Department of Chemistry and a member of the Equality and Diversity Group, said: "We very much hope that the initiatives we have introduced to encourage and support women in science, show our commitment to wider equality and diversity and actually benefit all staff and students.

“A large number of staff and students contribute to the equality work within the Department and we are proud of this team achievement; there is still a lot of hard work to be done but the renewal of the Gold award really helps to motivate us to continue."

The University of York also holds an institutional Bronze award, renewed today.

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