Athena SWAN

The Athena SWAN Charter recognises commitment to advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in academia.

We are delighted to have received a Silver award in October 2015:
UCL press release

Helene Plun Favreau

"With our mentoring scheme, we aim to give women all the tools they need to reach their highest potential, so they can manage their work-life balance and find their own equilibrium."

Dr Helene Plun-Favreau, Senior Lecturer Department of Molecular Neuroscience

Professor Hanna

The current culture in the Institute is inclusive. Teamwork is highly valued, individual strengths are recognized and celebrated, and there is a commitment to advancing the careers of everyone, regardless of gender or role. We aim to provide a family friendly environment where both women and men feel able to take the time they need for family.

Professor Mike Hanna, Institute Director

Achievements at the Institute of Neurology

IoN Mentoring Scheme

Mentoring is a crucial part of supporting career progression. While UCL has an online mentoring scheme called u-mentor, we have added a specific mentoring scheme for female academics at the IoN. Currently we have 27 mentors who have been trained by an external mentoring expert.

Our mission statement is:

  • To support, inspire and guide basic science (non-clinical) female academic and research staff (grade 7 and above) to further their careers both in the IoN and in the scientific community as a whole. We hope this voluntary scheme will eventually be rolled out to all new staff, irrespective of gender.
  • Mentors may be male or female.
  • Mentoring is a voluntary scheme, but each mentor/mentee pair will be required to agree and sign a mentoring agreement.
  • The mentor or mentee will be able to withdraw from the scheme at any point.

How can mentees benefit?

Mentoring can:

  • Assist in career direction
  • Give guidance on UCL/IoN policies and procedures for academic and salary progression.
  • Help shape CV
  • Build confidence
  • Create new opportunities for networking


IoN Athena SWAN lead for mentoring:

Dr Helene Plun-Favreau:

Maternity mentors

Dr Olga Ciccarelli

Dr Olga Ciccarelli

I am happy to discuss and advice how to deal with maternity leave. I had two children while working at UCL Institute of Neurology and have tried to find a balance between my professional commitments and my family life. I am now a Professor of Neurology.  So if you are a mum-to-be and are working at UCL, please feel to get in touch for a chat. I will be able to tell you who to contact if further advice is necessary or particular issues are identified.

Dr Bernadett Kalmar

Bernadett Kalmar

I had 2 children while I have been working at the Institute of Neurology and thus, have experience with issues arising from taking maternity leave, adjustments when returning to work and establishing a healthy work life balance. As one of my children was born extremely prematurely I also had some special circumstances to deal with at the time and was lucky to have the support of my line manager and UCL.

I hope to give the best advice in practical work and maternity related issues that I know can be numerous when one expects their first (second etc) child. I am happy to be contacted by email and also to meet personally- all in strict confidentiality.

Maternity room

The Athena SWAN Maternity Room is located on floor 7 (room 704) of Queen Square House.What is it?

  • It is a room for pre- or post-partum women to use when they are feeling unwell, need a rest or need to express breast milk
  • The room has a sink, fridge, water dispenser, small table, four chairs and a long sofa.
  • The room is lockable from the inside and has an “in use” sign on the outside of the door.

How do I use it?

  • The room does not need to be booked
  • Access is via the reception in Queen Square House. Anyone with a valid UCL card can use the room. If you don’t have a Queen Square House access card, that’s OK, just sign in at the front desk and the guards will give you an Athena SWAN badge (which should be handed back when leaving).
maternity room

Making promotion and pay progression part of appraisal

  • All IoN staff should have an appraisal at least every two years. UCL has a standard form that is used for this, but promotion and pay progression are not specifically mentioned.
  • The Director, Professor Mike Hanna, has decided that an additional page will be added so that both of these important areas are discussed. We are working on this when ready you can download it from this link.

Male:Female imbalance on the IoN Executive Committee

  • The makeup of the Executive Committee (the main decision making committee of the IoN) is largely from the heads of the academic departments (8) and clinical divisions (6) at Queen Square. The current male:female balance is 14:3
  • In order to address this, the Executive Committee has decided to appoint two deputies for each committee member, at least one of whom must be female. They will deputize for members in cases of absence.
  • One or two deputies will be invited to attend each meeting as an observer so they can familiarize themselves with the workings of the committee.

Future plans

Athena SWAN is about making changes in the workplace to redress gender bias. As well as our ongoing initiatives detailed above, we are planning the following:

  1. A crèche to be included in the plans for the new IoN building.
  2. A two-stage expansion of the mentoring scheme to first include all female academics, then all males.
  3. Make sure our initiatives cover non-academic staff employed at the IoN


ION AthenaSWAN lead: Alex Leff
ION Mentoring lead: Helene Plun-Favreau

Page last modified on 05 feb 16 16:32