University recognised for commitment to gender equality

3rd May 2016

The University of Sheffield has been recognised for its ongoing commitment to gender equality by a leading champion for female researchers.

The University has achieved a silver level Athena SWAN Award, which encourages and recognises commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, engineering, technology, maths and medicine (STEMM). Sheffield is now among an elite group of nine universities to be recognised in this way and to achieve this level of award. The achievement also recognises a number of departments across the institution for their dedication to advancing the careers of women in STEMM subjects. The University's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Department of Chemistry, have all been honoured with silver awards in recognition of their commitment to gender equality. The institution award recognises Sheffield's significant and sustained record of activity and achievement in promoting gender equality and in addressing challenges in different disciplines. It also marks significant progress since the University was given a bronze award in 2008, which was renewed in 2012. Andrew Dodman, Director of Human Resources at the University of Sheffield, said: -I am once again delighted at the recognition awarded to our University and our departments by Athena SWAN and would like to extend my congratulations and thanks to everybody involved. -We aim to attract, engage and develop the best talent, and our Athena SWAN success will act as further motivation to help us continue to embed inclusivity throughout the University, and create a truly remarkable place to work". The Athena SWAN award follows the University implementing a broad range of activities to advance the careers of women scientists, such as mentoring programmes, women's networks, and the Women Academic Returners Programme (WARP) an initiative that provides additional support to female researchers upon returning from maternity leave. Sheffield has also focused on bringing more gender balance to its leadership and committee roles. Senate the body responsible for regulating and directing academic work at the University has seen a marked increase in female representation over the last 10 years, with 40 per cent of Senators now female compared to 20.5 per cent in 2006-7, and 44 per cent of its committee members also being female. One third of the University's Council the governing body of the institution - are female, the highest proportion in eight years. Sheffield also recently appointed its first female Chancellor, the Rt Hon Lady Justice Rafferty, and its first female Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Shearer West. All STEMM departments in the University, plus the Department of Archaeology, now hold an Athena SWAN award. Professor Beverley Inkson from the University's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said: -Our award is the result of five years of commitment of our staff to making the department a great place for women to study and work. -Our achievements include a substantial increase in female student and staff numbers, impactful careers and personal development events, and restructuring of work practices to ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all our staff. Dr Rhonda Snook from University's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, added: -One of the most important aspects of putting together our first application in 2012 for Athena SWAN silver was how it drew the department together and helped us focus on issues that were fundamental to our working practices. -Over the last three years our processes for improving our working environment and the prospects for all our colleagues has become more deeply woven into our cultural fabric. That achievement is something everyone across the University should be and is extremely proud of. Andrew Dodman added: -There is however more to do. -Our silver level institutional action plan takes into account the need for continuous engagement with decision makers to effect culture change, and the need to build greater capability amongst staff at all levels. We will also continue to support further departmental applications, he added. In recognition of its achievements, the University has also been chosen to host the National Athena SWAN awards ceremony on 30 June 2016. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West will deliver the opening address and will welcome Sheffield's Athena SWAN champions and members of other universities.

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