Department for Health: Equality & Diversity

Documenting our journey towards equal opportunities

Become a Soapbox Scientist!

📥  Uncategorized

We are currently recruiting speakers for our Soapbox Science Bristol Summer 2017 event.
We would like to ask if any of your would be interested being a Soapbox Scientist this summer, in Bristol. If so, we would love to hear from you.
What's Soapbox Science? Take a look at our video

Who can apply to be a speaker? Any woman who is an active scientist - from PhD student to professor, academic, research institute or industry. And 'science' includes the full STEMM (Science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine)

Why should I want to be a Soapbox Scientist? Because you're an amazing woman in science in the UK; because you conduct awesome science that you are burning to share with the public; because you care about the issues facing women in science and want to make a public stand for the visibility of the current and future generations of female scientists.

What's in it for me? Local Training; from your Bristol team; be part of a growing network of Soapbox Scientists across the UK; career development; the potential for local, national and even international press coverage of you and your work support from one of our sponsors.

How do I apply? Application process is really easy - it's an online form, one per event. Just pick your location, and you're done in about 5 mins! The deadline for applications the 24th of February.

If you would like any further information, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Emily Bell
(on behalf of the Soapbox Science Team)


January's Top 5 Countdown

📥  Uncategorized

In true Top-Of-The-Pops style, here is this months countdown on what's been rocking the Equality and Diversity charts this month (the Athena SWAN genre):

Non-mover at number FIVE is the BMJ research paper confirming our suspicions that gender equity programmes have the potential to address inequity, yet can also unintentionally reproduce and reinforce gender inequity through their enactment. Potential programme impacts may be undermined by barriers to staff availing of career development and training initiatives, and by wider institutional practices, national policies and societal norms.

New entry at FOUR is our developing relationship with the University Research Staff Working Group. The group seeks to improve the working practices, skill levels, job satisfaction and career management of researchers in order to recruit, retain and get optimal performance out of the best possible research staff. If this is you, or if you line manage research staff:

  • Bookmark their webpage,
  • Contact the faculty rep Phillip Brooker with any questions or comments you may have,
  • Familiarise yourself with key information aimed at Research Staff within the University.
  • Watch this space for more initiatives within the Department that will support you in your role.

THREE cheers for the Research Committee who are working to ensure that some of the most interesting, excellent female and male scientists get to take centre stage in our Department Seminar Series. The importance of having regular access to a range of different (positive!) role models within our field is not to be underestimated. If you're looking for inspiration, ideas, or just fancy learning something new and seeing where it takes you, look out for email updates from the brilliant Emma D.

TWO (or more!) heads can be better than one... and that's exactly why we're strongly encouraging each and every staff member, regardless of your career stage, to get out there and find yourself a mentor through the University Mentoring Scheme. Have a chat with Fiona Gillison (department co-ordinator) if you have any questions about the scheme.

And at number ONE is the launch of our 'Health fortnightly coffee and catch-up'. It was great to see so many staff and students from across the Department break out of the office, lab, library, class room (and in some instances other committee meetings!) to be there on the 11th January. What a great opportunity to introduce yourself to people you've never quite got around to speaking with, learning what our fantastic bunch of PhD students are all up to, and generally catching-up with people who you might not have seen since last year (haha - see what I did there?).


These will continue to be held on the 2nd & 4th Wednesday of each month 10:30 - 11am in the Level 5 communal area.

Bring your own drink ... and any tasty treats that you'd like to test out on your colleagues.


Actions Speak Louder than Words

📥  Uncategorized

The process of applying for the Bronze Athena Swan award provided us with an opportunity to identify key areas where we would like to see change within our department. On the surface, these can be interpreted as actions exclusively orientated toward gender equity, but they are more than that. As a department, we're aspiring to be more inclusive, more engaged with publics beyond the University, recognise the various contributions that every member of the department is making to ensure Health @ Bath is a vibrant, stimulating, welcoming and supportive place to be. This applies to staff and students who are here at the moment, but it's also relevant to those who might be thinking of joining us in the future.

There's much to be done. We know things aren't perfect. But there's a growing number of people within the Dept. and across the University that are committed to seeing change.


Below are the action points that we have previously identified as being crucial for this.

  1. Raise awareness of gender equity principles within Health and contribute to change within sector.
  2. Create inclusive culture and improve external identity through engagement.
  3. Achieve gender equity in senior staff roles through supporting career progression and recruitment.
  4. Enhance the career development of research staff to address the loss of women.
  5. Recognise contribution of professional staff to Dept. activities and enhance career opportunities.
  6. Increase representation of female students in taught programmes as leaders in the sport & health sector.
  7. Enhance doctoral experience and career opportunities for female PGR students.

We have specific activities planned that will help us to address each of these actions, but are very keen to continue hearing your ideas. The 'Champions for Change' within the Department will soon be announced. In the meantime you are welcome to email me or slip a note under my office door (1 West 3.117).


Department for Health Receive Bronze Athena SWAN Award!

📥  Uncategorized


We did it!

Many congratulations to all involved in helping to create equity across the department. Our efforts have been acknowledged by Athena Swan who earlier this year presented us with a bronze award. Our application for the award was commended on a number of specific points, including:

  • The range of career stages represented on the Departmental Self-Assessment Team.
  • Recognition in the need to engage men as agents of change.
  • Time and funding support for Aurora participation.
  • Appointments for cover of maternity leave.
  • A number of processes to support career development, particularly the Annual Research Funding Account.

Following this fantastic achievement, Simone Fullager will be stepping down from her role as department lead, passing the baton on to Cassandra Phoenix. We are in the process of forming our new Athena Swan Implementation Committee (ASIC), who will be responsible for implementing the action plan proposed as part of our application for the bronze award, along with addressing wider Equality and Diversity issues across the department.

Stay tuned for introductions!




How are other universities creating change?

📥  Uncategorized

In UK, the Athena SWAN initiative provides the framework for action on gender equity. We thought it might also be useful to have a look at what universities in other countries are doing to create change. Recently I met with visiting scholar Dr Diana Parry who is the Advisor on Gender Equity to the President of the University of Waterloo. As you can read below, Waterloo have signed up to the United Nations campaign to encourage men to get involved in change (there are also two British Universities involved - Oxford and Leicester).

The UN states 'HeForShe is a global effort to engage men and boys in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential, and thus together positively reshaping society'. In UK, actor Emma Watson has actively promoted the campaign through social media @HeforShe #HeForShe.

Waterloo News » News » 2015 » May »
Waterloo leads Canada in UN HeForShe gender equity campaign
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
The University of Waterloo made three commitments today to achieve comprehensive, long-term and sustainable gender equity as part of theUN Women’s HeForShe campaign. Waterloo, consistently ranked Canada’s most innovative university, is one of 10 universities around the world committing to take bold, game-changing action to achieve gender equality within and beyond their institutions in the HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 framework. Waterloo is the only Canadian organization participating in the framework. Waterloo is working in partnership with UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.HeForShe is a global effort to engage men and boys in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential, and together positively reshaping society.
“Waterloo is taking the lead for Canada’s university sector in the globalHeForShe effort,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “Gender equity is not a women’s issue. It is an everybody issue. Waterloo’s been invited to help lead HeForShe because we’re committed to gender equity. We are making three ambitious but realistic goals that we intend to achieve within the next five years.”

Working alongside governments, leading universities and global businesses the University of Waterloo is making three commitments to achieve gender equity by developing innovative programming aimed at a full spectrum of women, from young girls right through to the University’s senior leadership.
The University of Waterloo committed to:
1. Boost participation of female students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experiences and academic careers to build the pipeline of future female leaders in traditionally male dominated disciplines
2. Enhance the representation of female faculty to improve the campus environment today and drive towards parity in the future
3. Attract and advance female leaders to senior academic and administrative positions at the University
“As change leaders in gender equity — especially as a leading STEM-focused university — we aim to advance excellence at all levels of our institution while serving as a galvanizing force for social change at universities across Canada,” said Hamdullahpur. “We know that we have some work to do to improve gender equity on our campus, but fulfilling these commitments is fundamental to our University’s long-term success, and to the quality and betterment of society.”
About HeForShe
HeForShe is a solidarity movement that calls upon men and boys to stand up against the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally. The campaign strengthens the support for women’s rights as human rights by enlisting the support of men and exhorting them to put themselves forward as advocates for gender equality. For more information, visit



New Athena SWAN charter

📥  Uncategorized

With the release of the new Athena SWAN charter and application guidelines, we have adjusted our processes to accommodate the changes. Health will be the first department in the university to apply under the new framework. Outlined below are the key changes and the charter outlines the key principles that will shape our action plan. The DSAT team are in the process of reviewing all the staff and student survey feedback and we will aim to circulate our draft report in Jun for comment. Academic and professional staff please save the date 20th July 2pm (CB 4.1) for an informal afternoon tea discussion with DSAT members and James about the draft – all input is welcome. Meetings will also be held separately with undergraduate and post-graduate students to discuss feedback.

If you are looking for a little career inspiration or update to date gender figures on research funding etc, have a look at the Dutch website Athena’s Angels. They certainly have a different gendered image of science.

In May 2015 the charter was expanded beyond STEMM subject areas to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL). This change has broadened the focus on gender equality and importantly the charter now includes professional staff, and transgender staff and students.

'The Athena SWAN Charter is based on ten key principles. By being part of Athena SWAN, institutions are committing to a progressive charter; adopting these principles within their policies, practices, action plans and culture.

1. We acknowledge that academia cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of all.

2. We commit to advancing gender equality in academia, in particular, addressing the loss of women across the career pipeline and the absence of women from senior academic, professional and support roles.

3. We commit to addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional and support functions. In this we recognise disciplinary differences including:

the relative underrepresentation of women in senior roles in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL)
the particularly high loss rate of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM)
4. We commit to tackling the gender pay gap.

5. We commit to removing the obstacles faced by women, in particular, at major points of career development and progression including the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career.

6. We commit to addressing the negative consequences of using short-term contracts for the retention and progression of staff in academia, particularly women.

7. We commit to tackling the discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people.

8. We acknowledge that advancing gender equality demands commitment and action from all levels of the organisation and in particular active leadership from those in senior roles.

9. We commit to making and mainstreaming sustainable structural and cultural changes to advance gender equality, recognising that initiatives and actions that support individuals alone will not sufficiently advance equality.

10. All individuals have identities shaped by several different factors. We commit to considering the intersection of gender and other factors wherever possible.’


29th April 2015: Exeter's Sport and Health Athena SWAN lead visits Bath

📥  Events

We are delighted to welcome A/Professor Joanna Bowtell - chair of Exeter’s Sport and Health Sciences Athena SWAN Department Self-Assessment Team (DSAT) - to the Department. Jo will be sharing insights from Exeter's recent success in gaining a Silver Athena SWAN Award with our own DSAT committee.

A/Professor Bowtell has recently been appointed as Head of Department and will also be presenting her own research in a seminar series in the afternoon – all are welcome: Wednesday 29th April, Time: 14:00, Location: CB1.12

Title: Cherries and Berries: live long and prosper!
Bio: Dr Jo Bowtell completed her PhD examining the effects of nutrition and exercise on protein turnover at Dundee University in 1996. She subsequently spent 3 years lecturing and researching at Loughborough University and 12 years at London South Bank University, where she led sports science research and enterprise activity. She has been at Exeter University since September 2011, where she is an Academic Lead and now Head of Department. Her main research interest is in exercise and nutrient-induced changes in human physiology and metabolism, and the application of this knowledge to both optimise athlete performance and to prevent and treat clinical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


We want to know what you think

📥  Blogpost

In April we distributed an independently administered survey to staff and students to seek feedback about issues, best practices and ideas for moving forward with the Athena SWAN action plan.

The results of the survey will be independently analysed and made available to all for comment and reflection. Thanks if you participated - we welcome your comments and will be feeding back our findings on this blog soon.


Launching Athena SWAN in Health

📥  Blogpost

Our Department began work on achieving Athena SWAN accreditation in Autumn 2014 and on Thursday 18th December, 2014, we held a forum to launch Athena SWAN as a key priority.  35  staff members participated in round table discussions to identify the benefits of pursuing accreditation, challenges around achieving gender equality and fostering an inclusive workplace culture for all. Our process is also part of the University of Bath Athena SWAN plan (Bronze Award).

Prof. Simone Fullagar, Chair of Athena SWAN DSAT, led a presentation to the Department about the Athena SWAN Charter and the importance of addressing gender equality in sport and health disciplines as well as university careers more broadly.

Athena Swan1

In 6 multidisciplinary groups, Department staff discussed the benefits of being involved in the Athena SWAN programme and current challenges to gender equity.  Discussions exposed how women (and men) from different social backgrounds (ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, disability, class) are already creating awareness about ‘unconscious bias’ and the need for active inclusion.

Ideas for action to improve gender equity

  • Identify effective communication processes to engage all staff, provide information about how to join committees, create social spaces for interaction and informal networking.
  • Continue to promote degree programmes at the University of Bath to women and people from equity groups. In 2013/14 Bath sport science & sport social science programmes had the highest proportion (43%) of female undergraduate students when benchmarked against similar universities and the whole sector (33%). The Foundation sport course was lower at 31%. There are few students from minority backgrounds.
  • Address organisational barriers – by managing short-term contracts and encouraging goal setting & career development processes for all staff. Involve more women in research governance, decision making and grant applications.
  • Support research time and promotion pathways – by reducing administration, supporting mentoring for all staff, identifying gender related issues that may not have been recognised (eg., student responses to male/female lecturers in evaluation)
  • Promote flexible working across all roles to enable carer responsibilities of all kinds -- by recognising part-timers equally in terms of contribution, encouraging parental leave for mothers and fathers, supporting plan for parents returning from parental leave to minimise career disruption, addressing waiting lists for nursery and discussing work-life balance strategies
  • Consider proactive gender equity stratgies in recruitment – by examining how to attract and retain more women in areas where there are more men, considering pros/cons of gender blind shortlisting and including diverse images of women and men in all Dept marketing
Athena Swan3 Athena Swan4 Athena Swan2


Welcome to our blog

📥  Blogpost


This is the Department for Health's Athena SWAN blog page, where we will be communicating our journey towards an Athena SWAN Bronze Award to staff and students.

Why are we doing it?

There is an extensive body of research that demonstrates gender inequality still exists in many areas that affect women’s career opportunities in sport and health related fields, involvement in academic life and progression for academic and professional staff (widening pay gap in society, low proportion of female professors, lack of continuity with short term research contracts, juggling careers with motherhood).

The Department for Health seeks to develop strategies to address gender barriers and promote an inclusive organisational culture for women and men from diverse social backgrounds. Athena SWAN accreditation is increasingly recognised by key bodies, such as research councils and higher education organisations, as an important response to societal issues that impact individual lives and organisational success.

Contact us

Please contact us if you wish to contribute related links and information about initiatives supporting gender equality and inclusive academic cultures. The Equalities Challenge Unit is currently working on an integration of Athena SWAN principles and the gender equality charter mark, so the focus will broaden the current STEMM focus to include social sciences. We will keep you posted about changes.

Dr. Jenny Hatchard or Prof. Simone Fullagar