First non-STEM Athena SWAN winners named

Durham, Edinburgh and Queen’s University Belfast pick up inaugural awards for arts, humanities and social science departments

April 28, 2016
Male/female gender symbols drawn in chalk
Source: iStock

The first arts, humanities and social science university departments to win an Athena SWAN award have been named.

In the first round of applications since the gender equality charter scheme was extended to cover subjects beyond science, technology, engineering and maths, two schools at Queen’s University Belfast (modern languages, and sociology, social policy and social work) and two at the University of Edinburgh (economics, and history, Classics and archaeology) were awarded a bronze Athena SWAN charter mark.

Durham University’s School of Government and International Affairs also picked up a bronze award.

A total of 12 non-STEM departments had applied to gain accreditation.

Examples of good practice highlighted by the Equality Challenge Unit, which runs Athena SWAN, include having 12 months of paid maternity leave available to staff, irrespective of length of service, at Edinburgh’s economics department, where flexible working on return from leave and a mentoring scheme for younger academics was also on offer.

Durham’s School of Government and International Affairs was commended for offering staff who take three months’ shared parental leave a term with a reduced workload (50 per cent) to allow them to focus on research.

The School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s Belfast was praised for encouraging a good work–life balance, in particular a policy that emphasises that staff are not required to engage in email correspondence during the evenings and weekends.

“It is encouraging to see universities engaging with the Athena SWAN charter across disciplines,” said Ruth Gilligan, the ECU’s Athena SWAN manager.

“We’ve seen the impact of the charter for academic women in science and for their departments over the past 10 years [and] are delighted to welcome the five successful [non-STEM] departments as they lead the way for equality and career progression for colleagues in non-STEM subjects,” Dr Gilligan added.

Overall, the success rate – 42 per cent – for the non-STEM applicants was lower than the 66 per cent for the whole scheme, a figure down from 70 per cent in the previous round of applications in April 2015.

That lower success rate was attributed to a new process used by applicants, who are now required to include professional and support staff in their considerations.

Overall, 84 successful Athena SWAN awards, including seven at institutional level, were granted from 128 applications.

Newcastle University and the University of Sheffield join a small group of universities holding silver institution awards, bringing the total number with this award to nine, while the Institute of Cancer Research became the third institute to take a silver award.

Athena SWAN winners (April 2016)

Bronze Institution Awards

Silver Institution Awards

Bronze Departmental Awards

Silver Departmental awards

Note: departmental renewal awards are not listed

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Reader's comments (1)

Do Athena Swan people know that a School they have just awarded is about to be axed at Queen's University Belfast (School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work)?

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