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Gender Equality

IoPPN Women in Science Initiative & Athena SWAN Award

In 2012, the IoPPN Women in Science Initiative was established to assess, address and challenge the inequities women face in their academic careers in STEMM subjects (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine). It is vital that women are adequately represented in a historically male-dominated area in order to benefit from the talents of the whole population, inspire the next generation and therefore advance STEMM around the globe.

The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) is continuously strengthening its commitment to gender equality.

Since its inception, the number of women readers at the IoPPN has increased from 31% to 55.5%. Our ratings on the Good Practice Checklist (Oxford Research and Policy version) has moved from 66% ‘poor/not on radar’ to 98% ‘adequate and above’.




Why do we need an IoPPN Women in Science Initiative?

There is substantial peer reviewed global evidence highlighting gender imbalance within science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) careers. 

In 2014, the UK House of Commons Science and Technololgy Committee Women in scientific careers report showed that women are under-represented in senior academic positions across every scientific discipline.

These differences accumulate over the course of an individual’s career to create differences in opportunity and experience.

Why might a woman's experience of a career in science be different from a man's?

Some of the biases that under-represented groups can face include:

  • Unconscious bias
  • Conscious bias
  • Homophilia – people like to be with people like themselves
  • Ambivalent prejudice – hostility towards people in non-traditional roles
  • Stereotype threat – underperformance through stereotype anxiety
  • Confirmation bias – tendency to favour information that confirms our preconceptions
  • Halo effect – one trait influences our perception of another
  • Conflict of interests – bias towards people who have helped or can help us
How does this present itself?
  • Less likely to be selected/nominated
  • Less likely to self-nominate
  • Less time to work extra hours, travel, network
  • More likely to have had a career interruption
  • More likely to be part-time or fixed-term contract, less likely to be appraised
What can we do? 

The main areas where good practice can make a difference are:

  • Appointment and selection
  • Promotions
  • Career Development
  • Early Career Researchers
  • Workplace Flexibility
  • Career Breaks
  • Organisation and culture



Athena SWAN Silver Award

We are pleased to announce that the IoPPN has been granted the Athena SWAN Silver Award, a charter that promotes gender equality and the careers of women in science.

About Athena SWAN

The Athena Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN) charter was launched by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) in 2005 to recognise commitment of institutions that promote and advance careers of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) in academia.

In May 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

The members of the Athena SWAN Charter are guided
by ten principles:

1. We acknowledge that academia cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of all.

2. We commit to advancing gender equality in academia, in particular, addressing the loss of women across the career pipeline and the absence of women from senior academic, professional and support roles.

3. We commit to addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional and support functions. In this we recognise disciplinary differences including:

  • the relative underrepresentation of women in senior roles in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL)
  • the particularly high loss rate of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM)

4. We commit to tackling the gender pay gap.

5. We commit to removing the obstacles faced by women, in particular, at major points of career development and progression including the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career.

6. We commit to addressing the negative consequences of using short-term contracts for the retention and progression of staff in academia, particularly women.

7. We commit to tackling the discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people.

8. We acknowledge that advancing gender equality demands commitment and action from all levels of the organisation and in particular active leadership from those in senior roles.

9. We commit to making and mainstreaming sustainable structural and cultural changes to advance gender equality, recognising that initiatives and actions that support individuals alone will not sufficiently advance equality.

10. All individuals have identities shaped by several different factors. We commit to considering the intersection of gender and other factors wherever possible.


King's College London was awarded a bronze award in 2008, 2013 and was renewed in November 2016 for a further three years.

Further information on King's Athena SWAN Bronze Award application and gender equality initiatives.

In 2011, the UK Department of Health's Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, wrote to medical schools to inform them that future Biomedical Research Centre/Unit funding was unlikely to be given where the academic partner did not hold at least a Silver Athena SWAN Women in Science Award.

The IoPPN Women in Science project was developed in 2012 and in 2014 the IoPPN was awarded the Athena SWAN Silver Award.

Further information on IoPPN's Athena SWAN Silver Award

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