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To know more about the awards and our work on gender equality check the CEMPS and CLES pages

Celebrating Prestigious Athena SWAN Awards

Two prestigious Athena SWAN awards have just been granted to three University of Exeter departments to recognise their commitment to gender equality. Psychology is celebrating a renewal of its Silver award, whilst Mathematics and Computer Science are celebrating their Bronze award.

Advance HE’s Athena SWAN charter began as a charter focused on academic women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. Since then the scope has widened to recognise work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, not just barriers to progression that affect women. The scope now includes staff in professional and support roles, trans staff and students, and those in subjects including humanities and the arts. 

An Athena SWAN silver award is highly coveted, and is granted in recognition of the positive impact of actions that a department has undertaken around gender and wider equality and providing a positive working environment. The bronze award recognises a department achievements in progressing gender equality with their organisation, together with a commitment to future improvement.

Professor Janice Kay, Provost of the University of Exeter, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that our commitment to equality has been recognised. We’ve done a huge amount of work in the past few years to try to make sure everyone in our organisation has every opportunity to meet their potential, while balancing the needs of their professional and personal lives. We’re not complacent and the work is ongoing, however we must celebrate this fantastic recognition of our inclusive ethos.”

Since last securing a Silver award in 2015, the Psychology department has implemented a number of significant steps towards promoting gender equality. In 2015 Exeter’s first Soapbox Science was launched which has since very successfully engaged the public with science and highlighted the contributions of women in STEMM. The department has organized this event annually since and featured up to 12 speakers per event ranging from PGRs to Professors from a variety of research institutions.

Head of Psychology, Professor Manuela Barreto, expressed in the application that ‘We are very proud of our AS Silver Award and have used this as a platform to inspire further change and mainstream equality and inclusivity in all we do.’ The Psychology department’s Silver application is widely regarded as sector leading on its analysis of the intersectionality of race and gender. They’ve taken a holistic approach to creating an inclusive and respectful culture including running external workshops on tackling the root causes of inequalities. Considered effort is made to grow powerful new leadership for transformative change within the department, through clear progression routes, mentoring, and improved staff participation and representation in decision making.

For Mathematics and Computer Science, Athena SWAN has inspired some major cultural achievements that have extended beyond the Department, including the CEMPS One Step beyond Research and Academic Staff Mentoring Scheme that, due to their success, have since been rolled out at an institutional level.

At the time of submission Professors Gavin Shaddick and Ronaldo Menezes said ‘This application details our ambitious plan to lead us towards a better balance across all of our student programmes and all of our staff. We believe that the mechanisms that we have put into place will enable all of our staff to flourish and allow the successes of our female members of staff to be promoted. Their exceptional work will inspire future generations and ultimately will lead to an increase in the number of women entering what has traditionally been seen as male dominated disciplines’.

Among their achievements, Mathematics and Computer Science run a substantial outreach programme and have made every effort to ensure that they offer an attractive proposition for female students who will be welcomed  into the world of university Mathematics and Computer Science. This encompasses widening participation A-level students through the Exeter Scholars programme that has delivered 3,504 student hours of focussed sessions to A-level students, 48% of which were female. Mathematics and Computer Science also work with the Exeter Maths School, where our students provide mentoring and a selection of our staff offer Christmas Lectures that attract nearly 1000 school students.   

To know more about the awards and our work on gender equality check the CEMPS and CLES pages

Date: 26 May 2020

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