About Athena SWAN

By Professor Nicola Woodroofe, Head of Biomedical Research Centre

This blog aims to showcase some of the work being carried out across Sheffield Hallam to promote and support gender equality, in particular amongst our staff and student population.

The Equality Challenge Unit’s Athena Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN) Charter was originally developed to encourage and recognise commitment to combating under representation of women, and advance the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) in research and academia.

The Charter has recently (May 2015) been expanded to recognise efforts to address gender equality more broadly, and now includes the arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law. The expanded Charter also covers professional, technical and support roles, and trans staff and students.

Awards at bronze, silver and gold level are made to institutions and departments. Sheffield Hallam University gained a bronze Athena Swan award in 2010 and this was renewed in 2014, following a further application. The University additionally holds a number of departmental awards – the Biosciences and Chemistry Department, including BMRC, gained a silver award in 2012, while Engineering and Maths, Architecture and Planning, and Psychology Group all hold bronze awards.

The University’s Athena SWAN submission and action plan are prepared and monitored by the University Self-Assesment Team, chaired by Helen Best. Activity in Departments is co-ordinated by Athena SWAN Champions, and if you want to know more about what is going on in your area, or would like to get involved, please contact your local champion.

Part of the work of the Athena Swan groups is to gather opinions from staff and students around issues relating to gender equality, thus you may have been asked to complete an on line survey or take part in a focus group on topics related to employment. All those involved with Athena Swan would be really grateful for your involvement in these activities such that we can gather more meaningful information to inform future actions. Another important aspect of Athena Swan is monitoring gender of students, throughout their academic journey, i.e. in terms of applications, offers made, students enrolled, and right through to degree class awarded.  This information can then be used to inform aspects of our work in relation to students and any gender issues uncovered which can then be actioned.

Overall the Athena Swan principles should enhance the community for all SHU employees and students.

See the University’s main website for further information on Athena SWAN and our awards.