The gender agenda: ICaMB welcomes the Athena Swan debate.

If you work in academia, then undoubtedly you will have heard something about the Athena SWAN charter over the last year or so. Athena SWAN is a national scheme that aims to rebalance the gender ratio in higher education and research, with a particular focus on employment in the STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) subjects. Like other research institutes, ICaMB has been engaged in this initiative, and were delighted to receive a bronze award when the results were recently announced.

However, Athena SWAN is not without its controversies. Although most (if not all) academics agree that the gender imbalance is a problem, not everybody agrees on the causes or on the best way to fix it. New research is published on the gender gap every week, but even this can prove contradictory (see for example here, here, here and here).

Today, we get two different personal opinions on Athena SWAN from members of the ICaMB Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team. First, we hear from Suzanne Madgwick, who says she doesn’t feel she has experienced the kind of discrimination that is often posited as a major cause of academic gender inequality.

Next we get the view of Nancy Rios, who tells us more about the gender imbalance, the Athena SWAN charter, how ICaMB has responded to it and what kind of changes can be put in place to make a positive impact.

On the ICaMBlog team, we are aware that this issue is not without controversy. However, we believe that the best way forward, as we proceed towards applying for silver and ultimately gold Athena SWAN status, is to have an open debate about these issues. We’d like to hear your opinions on this subject and are keen to hear from anyone who would also like to write an article on this subject. Please leave a comment below and join the conversation.

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