Promoting women’s careers in science: UCL praised for good practice

5 July 2013

UCL has been commended for its efforts to progress gender equality in the sciences.

Last week, at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the University was handed its Athena SWAN Bronze Award for the successful renewal of its institutional submission. Specific UCL initiatives that the Athena SWAN judges were impressed by include:

  • The network of Equality Champions established by the UCL President & Provost
  • Training that is open to all staff on the academic promotions process
  • Strategies to get more women into senior management positions
  • The new requirement to ensure recruitment panels have 25% female representation

As part of the Award action plan, UCL is also offering Springboard leadership development training for women, establishing impartial career advisors in each faculty and developing a parents and carers network.

Athena SWAN awards recognise a commitment to addressing the recruitment, promotion and retention of women in academic STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine). Submissions are judged by STEMM academics from across the sector and in the last award round, 30% of all new applications were unsuccessful and nearly 50% of all renewals failed. Only 2 institutions (Imperial College and Nottingham) have reached the standard required for a Silver award. 

Individual UCL departments also achieved SWAN awards with Computer Science and Medical Physics both receiving Bronze, and the MRC lab for Molecular Cell Biology successfully renewing their Silver award.

Following the positive feedback, UCL plans to apply for a university Silver award within the next 2 to 3 years. In order to achieve a university wide Silver award, a majority of UCL STEMM departments must first hold an Athena SWAN award.

The latest UCL application and action plan can be downloaded from the UCL Athena SWAN website.

Harriet Jones, Policy Adviser for Athena SWAN and women in SET, Human Resources Division