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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 email@example.com or Prof. Simone Fullagar firstname.lastname@example.org