UCL Division of Medicine


Women in Science 

Athena Swan Silver Award


Athena in Greek mythology is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength., strategy, arts and crafts and skill.

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

Launch of Athena Swan

The Charter was launched in 2005 and higher education institutions that are committed to the advancement and promotion of women’s careers in STEMM can apply for membership.

The Charter is underpinned by the belief that:

  1. It is vitally important that woman are adequately represented in what has traditionally been, and is still, a male-dominated area
  2. Science cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population, and until women and men can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords

The Division of Medicine is fully committed to these beliefs.

The Charter is managed by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU). It is funded by ECU, the Royal Society, the Biochemical Society and the Department of Health.

Athena SWAN Awards and the Division of Medicine

Athena SWAN grants a series of awards to Universities and individual departments that recognize their commitment to advancing women’s careers in STEMM.

  • Bronze Awards recognize that institutions have identified particular challenges and that activities have been planned for the future
  • Silver Awards additionally recognise that action has been taken in response to previously identified challenges and that the impact of the actions implemented has been demonstrated

In April 2013 the Division of Medicine Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team submitted an application to a Departmental Silver Award describing the particular characteristics and challenges of the Division and the impact of some previously implemented initiatives along with an action plan of future activities.

The Division’s self-assessment team (DoM-SAT) comprises a selected and diverse group of clinical and non-clinical academics as well as non-academics from across the Division’s sites, representing a wide range of professional and personal experiences.  The team was assembled in June 2012 and has been meeting regularly since then.

Actions for the Advancement of Women in the Division of Medicine

In the past year, through the preparation of our application for a Silver Award, the Division critically analysed its current policies and procedures. This resulted in a series of actions to support the development of women’s career in the Division, some of which have already resulted in quantitative and qualitative changes.

Some of the new policies that were implemented over the last year:

  1. Gender- balanced composition of the annual promotions Committee (50% female)
  2. Review of senior academic/research staff to identify suitable female scientist that should be encouraged to apply for promotion
  3. Gender-balanced composition of staff recruitment panels: we implemented the requirement of a minimum of one female representative (in panels of 3) in July 2012 before UCL made it policy in May 2013
  4. Allocation of funding towards technical support or consumables to keep research progressing when members of staff or students are on maternity leave or during their initial return to work
  5. Established regular Career Development Workshops for women. The first one was held in April 2013 and was dedicated to female postdocs and junior group leaders with the participation of representatives for major funding bodies and of several female role models in the Division
  6. Established a mentoring scheme for female staff at postdoc level to support their transition to senior academic posts. If you would like to be a mentor or a mentee as part of this scheme, please contact Markella Ponticos

Through the Athena SWAN SAT the Division also:

  • Surveyed postdocs and junior group leaders to identify causes for the drop in female researchers at that level transitioning to more senior posts