UCL News


New gender initiatives for UCL

3 April 2007

UCL's new Gender Equality Scheme (GES) and Action Plan have been endorsed by the Provost and his Senior Management Team, UCL's Committee for Equal Opportunities and the UCL Human Resources Policy Committee.

They will be presented to UCL Council for its final approval.

New initiatives in the scheme and plan - which UCL has developed in consultation with male and female staff and students, and trades unions, through the Gender Equality Working Group - include:

  • the introduction of a sabbatical term without teaching commitments for research active academics returning from maternity leave
  • a mentoring scheme for research and non academic staff
  • the promotion of work-life balance and a workplace culture that supports family, childcare and carer responsibilities  
  • broadening of the membership of UCL committees, to achieve gender balance at all levels; including strategic senior committees and non-academic staff members on those committees that do not require an academic input.

The scheme was drawn up to comply with the new Gender Equality Duty, which came into force in April 2007. Public bodies such as UCL now have a statutory duty to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment, and to promote equality of opportunity between women, men and transgendered people.

The plan builds on work already underway at UCL, from the results of the staff survey in 2004/2005 and UCL's Athena work, led by Professor Jan Atkinson and championed by the Provost, to advance women in science, engineering and technology (SET) by participation in the 2004 and 2006 Athena ASSET Surveys, and UCL's successful awarding of an Athena SWAN charter.

The process is being led at UCL by two senior women, Professor Christine Hawley, Dean of UCL Built Environment and Head of the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, and Professor Atkinson, Director of the Visual Development Unit, UCL Psychology, Pro-Provost (North America) and UCL's Athena Coordinator.

Professor Atkinson said: "The GES builds on ongoing gender initiatives, arising out of the work of UCL's Equal Opportunities Team and the Athena Advisory Group for ASSET Surveys and Charter Award Schemes. It involves the whole UCL community - students and all staff who work in UCL, right up to the Provost - and will hopefully bring about an ambitious culture change to achieve true gender equality in all UCL activities."

UCL's Gender Equality Working Group will be conducting an impact assessment of UCL's current policies and procedures regarding gender equality and will oversee progress over the next three years. If you are interested in taking part, please contact UCL's Equal Opportunities Coordinator, Fiona McLean: x09761.

To find out more about the GES, use the link at the bottom of this article.