Department for Health: Equality & Diversity

Documenting our journey towards equal opportunities

Topic: Uncategorized

More than words

📥  Uncategorized

We've probably all found ourselves in the situation at some time or another... We're part way into a sentence - maybe during a lecture, a conference presentation, or just conversation with our colleagues - and find ourselves unsure of what the politically correct language is to describe a particular group.

"Umm, errr... the errr.... they...those who...." ARGH!!!

Maybe, in these situations, you've pressed on, boldly blurting out a phrase that you feel is acceptable, reassuring yourself that the audience will know what or who you mean and forgive any inappropriateness.



"It's ok, everyone knows I don't mean any harm. It's only a word, right?"

Perhaps you've been challenged outright, like the Keynote presenter I witnessed being pulled up for their repeated use of the word "handicap". They were completely unaware of its derogatory association with people with physical disabilities who, historically needed to subsist as beggars ("hand-in-cap").



Language is a symbolic resource and words are rarely neutral. There are many possibilities for using language to define, trivialise or make people and groups invisible. Accordingly, ensuring that we use sensitive language is one way to help build more inclusive societies. This is why staff and students within the Department for Health (and University at large) are encouraged to use non-discriminatory and sensitive language in all communication.

Guidance on anti-racist, anti-sexist and non-disablist language can be found here (pages 13 - 15). Please do take some time to read the couple of pages dedicated to this topic.


All you need to know about our E&D committee (in a bite-size blog!)

📥  Uncategorized

Have you ever wondered what we're currently discussing at our Department for Health Equality & Diversity committee meetings? Well, wonder no more and take a read of our Action Notes from Equality and Diversity Meeting 24.10.17

A key development with our E&D Committee this academic year has been to reduce the number of people who need to attend, instead conserving people's energy for the activities that take place outside of the meeting room!

The current focus of the E&D committee is to implement the Action Plan that arose from our Bronze Athena SWAN award. Each member of the committee leads a specific sub-group relating to an area of the Athena SWAN framework...

  • Cassie Phoenix (staff data; writing group)
  • Emma Rich (career development)
  • Cassie Wilson (managing career breaks and flexible working)
  • Anthony Bush (student data)
  • Keith Stokes (organisation and culture)
  • Drew Toynbee (communications)

... or represent the department in some other relevant capacity. For example:

Our committee membership has been reduced, but our meetings are always open for staff and PGR students to participate in (see Dept. calendar for details; Next one 5/12/17 in 1 WN 3.20). We welcome your input!

We will continue to publish our action notes and any other documents of interest on this blog.

Please do get in touch ( with any comments or questions.


An Update from the Equality & Diversity Committee

📥  Uncategorized

It's been a while, right?

Blogging is one of those tasks that sits optimistically at the bottom of your to-do list. Working to ensure that diversity and inclusivity is supported and celebrated in day to day business within the Department for Health is, however, much further towards the top - especially when it comes to responding to the Equality Challenge Unit's Athena SWAN Charter (our current focus).

Here's a roundup of some of the latest initiatives the E&D committee have been implementing within our Department and why they are needed:

What?: Raising Awareness of E&D Issues within the Department

Why?: Data from our previous Athena SWAN departmental survey, demonstrated limited awareness of our values around gender equity.

Where have we focused our activities?:

This year, we ensured that our values regarding E&D were communicated to all new and returning students by incorporating dedicated slides into their Welcome/Welcome Back talks.

'Equality & Diversity' is now a standing agenda item on all of our influential committees (i.e. Executive Committee, Research Committee, Learning & Teaching) along with the all staff meeting. We're still learning our way with how to make sure this item isn't met with uncertain glances around the table, followed by a "nothing to report". But we're getting better at this. Having this dedicated time and space for discussion across all of these committees will, we hope, help to ensure that E&D values become embedded into the culture and decision making within the Dept... and not just the concern of E&D committee members.

The notion of 'core hours' was been implemented when drawing up the departmental meeting schedule for 2017-18. What this means in that wherever possible, meetings and events will take place between 10am - 3pm to facilitate the involvement of those staff who, for whatever reason, work flexi-hours.

Our recent 'training with tea' initiative, where we aimed to increase the number of staff who had completed their mandatory training (including training in Equality & Diversity in the Workplace and Unconscious Bias) was really well received by staff. So well received, in fact, that the "computers said no" and went into meltdown! This was a real frustration, but is being rectified by IT... and we'll 'reboot' in the new year for a 2nd attempt - maybe even with some leftover Christmas biscuits!


What?: Putting Maternity & Paternity Leave in the Spotlight

Why? This speaks to a wider interest we have in supporting staff who take career breaks.

Our confidential staff consultation (using padlet) drew attention to a whole range of questions that staff had on this topic.

Where have we focused our activities?: We are working closely with HR, the Research Manager (Lisa Austin) and our PGR office (via Emma Rich) (recent trends are indicating that more people are starting a family during their PhD studies as they perceive it to impact less on their career than during post-doc / early career phase) to collate current policies in relation to mat & pat leave.

Within the department, we have also implemented some new practices with immediate effect. We are recommending that within 3 months of returning from leave, staff arrange individual meetings with:

  • Director of Research (currently Dylan Thompson),
  • Research Manager (currently Lisa Austin),
  • Director of Studies on the programmes they contribute to
  • Their mentor (if they have one ... more of this in the next post!)

These informal meetings will provide opportunities for any procedural changes (e.g. the new 'pre-proposal feedback' sessions for those applying for grants, curricular transformations), updates regarding strategic plans of funding bodies etc. to be shared. It is hoped that this will prevent returning staff feeling that they invest much of their time and energy within the first few months of their return simply trying to get back up to date or missing relevant opportunities.

Changes have also been made to how returning staff might use their Annual Personal Research Fund to help meet their needs and they are encouraged to discuss this with the Head of Department.


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.’