The Athena SWAN charter recognises commitment of a higher education institution to advancing the careers of women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine) academia and the University was awarded a bronze membership in 2008, which was further renewed in 2011. The highly prestigious award recognises the planning (bronze award), doing (silver award) and maintenance (gold award) of practices that address their 6 principles, which include ensuring diversity at management and policy making levels, improving the recruitment, retention and progression of women, and changing cultures and attitudes.
So how does this affect you?
For an institution or individual school to receive an award they should begin to work towards establishing better practices, and although there is an emphasis on women in academia, this active movement towards improvement will in turn benefit everyone. The research staff community are an important part of academia and Athena SWAN specifically looks at how the School supports its researchers. Examples of good practice recognised by the Athena SWAN charter include creating an effective workload model for staff that takes into consideration their diverse responsibilities and positive steps towards flexible working, career breaks and parental policy.
So far, four awards are held within the University. Bronze awards are held by the School of Chemistry and School of Pharmacy, whilst the Faculty of Life Sciences and School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science have both received a silver award. The University’s commitment to the Athena SWAN Charter for Women in Science and its principles, joined with the growing acknowledgement of the award by research councils, means that all Schools within the University are aiming to make active steps necessary to evidence a real culture change. For more information, visit http://www.manchester.ac.uk/athenaswan