School of Biological Sciences

Athena SWAN

Athena SWAN

Recognising advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all

The Athena SWAN Charter was established by the Equality Challenge Unit to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.

Dr Andy Pickford, department lead

The School of Biological Sciences has been awarded an Athena SWAN bronze award, which recognises and celebrates good employment practice in the Department. View our Athena SWAN Bronze submission

The School’s Athena SWAN self-assessment team (SAT) comprises six women and three men who together represent a broad cross-section of its academic community from undergraduate to Head of School.  It is chaired by Dr Andy Pickford, who joined the School in 2005 as Senior Lecturer in NMR Spectroscopy, and has been the Associate Head (Research) since January 2012.  In recent years, Andy has gained considerable experience in achieving a work-life balance; together, he and his wife fit work commitments around caring for their two young children, aged 5 and 2.

Andy says: The School is embracing the Athena SWAN charter. We regard it as a timely opportunity to reflect on and transform our culture, practices and working environment for the good of both women and men in the School.  The entire SAT are delighted to be helping in this effort. Our Action Plan for change addresses genuine concerns regarding the career prospects and work-life balance of our students, academics and researchers. We believe its implementation will enhance the lives of both current and future scientists studying and working here.”

Athena Swan bronze

School Aims

The School’s SAT is committed to supporting the advancement of women’s careers and establishing a satisfactory work-life balance for all staff.  A few of the many actions that aim to achieve the transformations that we are striving for are as follows:

  • To review the advertising materials for all undergraduate and postgraduate courses, to ensure they remain attractive and inclusive to all.
  • To ensure that all recruitment panels are appropriately gender-balanced.
  • To provide support for attendance at female staff development events.
  • To ensure effective Performance Development Review (PDR) provision for all academic and research staff with interviews including a discussion of promotional criteria and the individual’s career prospects.
  • To improve the transparent monitoring of staff workload, and to redistribute work where/when needed.
  • To review School committee memberships to ensure that they have an appropriate gender balance, whilst being mindful of the workload on female members.
  • To enable students to request individual tutorial sessions that deal with personal issues with either a female or male tutor.
  • To establish an annual Biology in Life seminar with the emphasis on succeeding as a female biological science researcher whilst maintaining a good work-life balance. 

The School will be performing annual culture surveys of both staff and students in order to monitor the impact of these actions and the progress against our Athena SWAN objectives.