And the gold for making women welcome goes to…

The University of Edinburgh’s department of chemistry has become only the second department to win the UK’s top accolade for addressing the under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

August 5, 2012

The Athena SWAN Charter awards, funded by the Equality Challenge Unit, recognise three levels of achievement – gold, silver and bronze – at both departmental and university level.

Before this year, only one department – that of chemistry at the University of York – had earned a gold award. According to Sarah Dickinson, the awards coordinator, such departments are “beacons of achievement in gender equality, and they champion and promote good practice to the wider community”.

In the latest round of the twice-yearly awards, four institutions – the University of Aberdeen; Birkbeck, University of London; Brunel University; and the University of East Anglia – received bronze awards. This makes a total of 42 universities that have received a bronze award since the scheme began in 2005.

Almost 80 institutions have now signed the Athena SWAN charter, which makes them eligible to apply for awards.

In the latest round, seven departments received silver awards, which means that they have “a significant record of activity and achievement” and have “implemented activities and can demonstrate their impact so far”. A total of 52 departments now hold silver awards.

Bronze awards have been bestowed on 11 departments. These recognise that they have “identified particular challenges” and are “planning activities to address these in the future”. The number of departments with bronze awards is now .

Ms Dickinson said: “I hope that the [new] achievements announced will help to encourage others to raise their sights to keep up with the competition.”

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