UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Athena SWAN

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

Professor Michael Hanna, Director of the UCL Institute of Neurology


Professor Michael Hanna, Director of the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

"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."

Elizabeth Fisher


Professor Elizabeth Fisher, Professor of Neurogenetics, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

Achievements at the Institute of Neurology

Self-Assessment Team (SAT) Membership

(as of June 2019)

ION Athena SWAN leads

IoN Mentoring Scheme

Please see also IoN Mentoring Handbook and Faculty of Brain Sciences Professional Services 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 staff at the IoN. Currently we have 34 mentors who have been trained by an external mentoring expert and are in the process of training more.

We currently offer mentoring to the following people at the IoN:

  • IoN Departmental Leads for Mentoring Scheme

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
“My mentor was able to offer valuable advice about career direction and forming constructive relationships with co-workers. What I took away from the mentoring process was how important it was to have a mentor who could offer empathy and understanding to the difficulties you had but also challenge you to face up to difficult situations and take charge of your future. It felt very healthy to have an opportunity to evaluate my career with someone and be honest about what was required to succeed in academia with someone who had “made it””. Clare Sarell, Research Associate, Department of Neurodegenerative Disease.
Maternity, paternity and adoption leave mentors

Maternity mentors

Professor 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

Paternity and Adoption Leave Mentor

Dr Michael Lunn is a consultant Neurologist and Clinical Lead in Neuroimmunology. He took eight weeks adoption leave in 2012 and is our paternity/adoption leave mentor. He can be contacted at michael.lunn@ucl.ac.uk.

Maternity room

The Athena SWAN Maternity Room is located on floor 7 (rooms 709 and 710) 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 annual appraisal. UCL has a standard form that is used for this, but promotion and pay progression are not specifically mentioned
  • The Director, Professor Mike Hanna, believes that both of these important areas should be discussed. When carrying out appraisals, all IoN staff should use the form on the Faculty website This contains a checklist of issues to raise at the meeting.

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. An ongoing expansion of the mentoring scheme, with the eventual aim of offering mentoring to all categories of staff, regardless of gender.
  3. To address gender inequality on all IoN committees, including the IoN Executive Committee.
  4. To increase completion rate of all mandatory training for IoN staff, including Diversity training
  5. To ensure that all of our initiatives cover non-academic staff employed at the IoN.


ION Athena SWAN leads: Professor Nicholas Wood n.wood@ucl.ac.uk and Professor Elizabeth Fisher elizabeth.fisher@ucl.ac.uk