This year UCL Department of Computer Science is proud to be celebrating 10 years of the Department’s activities and commitment to Athena SWAN principles.
The Athena SWAN Charter is a gender equality framework used across the higher education sector to transform, support, and recognise commitment to advancing gender equality.
Changing perceptions is a long-term commitment, and over the past 10 years both our staff and students have played a key role in embedding gender equality within our environment and practice. Ten years ago there were only 11% women academics in our department. Now, this percentage has almost doubled to 21%, one of the highest amongst Departments of Computer Science in the Russell Group Universities. The percentage of women students (undergraduate, masters and postgraduate), has also remained consistently above the Russell Group Average. We continue to work towards achieving full gender balance at all levels.
We have achieved this change by improving the visibility of gender equality issues, putting in place both support and training to enable all to aim high and achieve their potential. One of our most significant actions was the creation of the Proleptic Lectureship Scheme which supports Postdoctoral Researchers that hold independent external Fellowships in their journey towards being appointed to permanent academic posts. We also created family support opportunities, offered a range of targeted workshops, and set up formal and informal mentoring schemes. We are also committed to helping other departments and organisations, both nationally and internationally, to achieve the same. In this respect we have shared our best practices, building up relationships both nationally and internationally with our outreach programmes.
For our work on gender equality, UCL Department of Computer Science was first awarded an Athena SWAN Bronze award in 2012. This was followed by a higher award, an Athena SWAN Silver award in 2015, and then a second Silver award in 2019. We have improved the quota of underrepresented groups at staff level, for which UCL Department of Computer Science has been recognised by Informatics Europe with the presentation of two MINERVA Informatics Equality Awards (an award that recognises best practices in Departments or Faculties of European Universities/Research Labs). We received a MINERVA Informatics Equality Award in 2016 for gender equality initiatives and policies that developed the careers of female academic staff, and again in 2020 for gender equality initiatives and policies supporting the transition of female PhD and postdoctoral researchers into academic staff positions.
As we take pride in our past achievements and the ethos we have established, we look forward to a future in which our journey encompasses the broader aspects of gender equality for our academic staff, professional services staff, and students, continuing to inspire all in our community.