Latest Athena Swan awards announced

Applications to the Athena Swan Charter for Women in Science continue to grow, the latest set of awards has revealed.

September 26, 2013

This round saw 112 applications, up from 96 made six months ago. Of these 87 were successful, an increase on 68 in April.

Run by the Equality Challenge Unit, the award is given to institutions that work to support the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine in higher education.

The scheme gained prominence after the Department of Health in 2011 made achieving the “silver” award a prerequisite for hosting one of its biomedical research units and centres in 2016, a scheme worth a total of £800 million.

As revealed in Times Higher Education today, alongside the Athena Swan and “gender charter mark” for the arts and humanities, the ECU now also plans to introduce a “charter mark” to tackle race inequality.

In the latest round of the Athena Swan awards eight new institutions received bronze awards, the prerequisite for applying for department-level recognition.

In total 58 departments were awarded the bronze award, meaning they had identified good and bad practice and how to improve, and 17 received the silver for the first time, for which they had to demonstrate measurable progress.

Imperial College London’s department of chemistry gained the fourth-ever gold award while the University of Warwick has become the fourth silver level university

Medical schools and clinical departments made up 30 per cent of all successful awards in the latest round, said the ECU. This group also had a higher than average application success rate of 81 per cent, compared with 78 per cent over all.

Engineering departments were the second largest group, gaining 9 per cent of all successful awards.

“I’m delighted to see that medical schools and clinical departments are making such headway in developing a culture of gender equality, and helping women to progress their careers,” said Sarah Dickinson, who oversees the awards at the ECU.

She added that in the previous round, only 47 per cent of submissions were successful at the level they applied for, which had now increased to 61 per cent.

“[Previously] we found that many departments were trying to go straight in at silver level, or move up before they had developed the strong foundations recognised by a bronze award,” she added.

The awards aim to recognise the higher education sector to address gender inequalities, tackle the unequal representation of women in science and to improve career progression for female academics.

There are now 257 award-holding institutions and departments across the UK. The latest winners will be celebrated at a ceremony at Imperial in November 2013.

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Reader's comments (2)

I wonder how much background research they can do before making the awards. A department that sacked 2 of its seven female academics and demoted another 2 last year was awarded the silver award. Here was the cry to the organization (which obviously went unheard...)
apologies: there were 3 sackings and 2 demotions out of a total of 10 female colleagues in the above mentioned department.

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