Department for Health: Equality & Diversity

Documenting our journey towards equal opportunities

Posts By: Simone Fullagar

How are other universities creating change?

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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

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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.’