Promoters of women in science win silver Swans

March 10, 2006

Edinburgh University's chemistry department and Imperial College London have been praised as good workplaces for female scientists.

The two won silver awards in the first Athena Swan (Scientific Women's Academic Network) Charter Awards, run by the Royal Society, for universities tackling the lack of female staff in science, engineering and technology.

Edinburgh's chemistry department received its award for encouraging a good work-life balance for staff.

Nick Bowry, human resources manager for Edinburgh's School of Science and Engineering, said: "(The chemistry department) has made really good efforts in terms of looking at the contribution individuals are making rather than time in the office when reviewing them for promotion."

In charge is Lesley Yellowlees, the first woman to lead a UK chemistry department. The university overall got a bronze award and was praised for helping women at key transition points in their careers.

Nationally, women make up 24.1 per cent of the workforce in science subjects, 12.5 per cent of managerial posts and 5.3 per cent of professorships.

Imperial was the only institution to win a silver medal overall in the inaugural awards. The medal is awarded to institutions that tackle barriers to the progression of women.

Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Southampton and Sunderland universities and University College London won bronze awards.

Imperial was commended for introducing a mentoring scheme to encourage women to apply for promotion, monitoring membership of promotion panels and setting up an academic opportunities committee reporting to the colleges'


Caroline Fox, Athena programme manager at the Royal Society, said: "The issue isn't getting women in, it's keeping them, rewarding them and progressing them."

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