Athena SWAN is open for discussion

Posted by Suzanne Madgwick

Following on from the success of our Athena SWAN Bronze Award we began an open discussion on social media by posting an article about its principles and practice, the good and the bad! It’s been pretty clear that not everyone is entirely happy, some with the charter in principle and others with actions in ICaMB related to the charter. The issue is polarised both nationally and within the department. We certainly don’t want to shy away from this and so we asked you for your anonymous views.

The one consistent thread that emerged again from this feedback is that we all agree on the importance of gender equality in the workplace, this has never been in doubt. HOWEVER opinions on other aspects vary wildly, you’ll see from the following matrix that we don’t even all hold the same views on the AS team.

This has been a very productive exercise with which we can develop our future direction. Thank you for taking the time to post your comments. We’ve put together a team summary statement  and a full comments matrix to highlight our future approach and the types of conversations we are having. We have also organised the comments into a few main topics which are available by clicking on the pages below for a quick view.

We hope we can continue to openly discuss. So have a look at our statement for a more general view, the summaries focusing on the topics that interest you most and please do let us know what you think.

Positive discriminationPositive Discrimination

                                                         A Box ticking exerciseBox ticking 


Butterfly programmeThe Butterfly Program




AS5Having children harms your career

                                                        A historical problem?Historical problem?


Don’t forget to take the time to look through the full matrix. This is a working document that will continue to improve through open discussions and with your valuable feedback and help, so please leave your comments!

Thanks again

The AS team.

One thought on “Athena SWAN is open for discussion

  1. With regard to the change in proportion of women in various levels of academic posts (see ‘a historical problem?’), I think it is more useful to look at the change in the proportions of women in various level of posts as a fraction of the total at that level, rather than the % eg. there are only 4 readers in ICAMB so I question the significance of the rise from 0-25%! In fact, based on the ICAMB academic staff page, it seems that the professorial increase from 6-10% has resulted in a total of 2 female professors (out of a total of 25) so with numbers this small I am not sure there is much we can really read into any changes!
    Hopefully, apparent decreases in the % of female RA are equally meaningless, otherwise these figures suggest fewer women obtaining PhDs are even taking up a first academic research post, which would be a shame given the efforts being made on their behalf to ensure that gender is no barrier to success.
    If not, perhaps AS team should try and find out why? -If this drop in female RAs is reflected by a drop in the number of female applicants, this would suggest more graduating female PhD students are now choosing not to do a postdoc and moving into other careers instead.

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