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11 October 2019

Geography awarded Bronze Athena SWAN for gender equality

The Department of Geography has been awarded a Bronze Athena SWAN award in recognition and celebration of the department’s practices towards the advancement of gender equality in higher education.


The Bronze award recognises that the department has a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff. This includes representation, progression and success for all.

Criteria for the award included an assessment of gender equality (both quantitative and qualitative); a four-year plan that builds on the assessment; and the development of an organisational structure to carry proposed actions forward.

Athena SWAN departmental lead, Professor Cathy McIlwaine said: “The rigorous application process has enabled a substantive shift in the culture of the Department of Geography, not just in gender equality but across the breadth of diversity in the department."

Using data visualisation, the department has been able to paint a quantitative picture that highlights where progress has been made. This has provided the baseline for an action plan and an essential platform from which to monitor our data for future reference.

Departmental descriptors (staff survey)
Departmental descriptors (staff survey)

We’ve already taken steps such as changing our weekly evening research seminars to an alternating lunch time/afternoon pattern. This helps all staff to maintain a better work-life balance – keeping formal activities within the working day, while also ensuring those with caring responsibilities are considered.

Professor Cathy McIlwaine

The Advance Higher Education’s Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.

In 2015, the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law, 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.

Athena SWAN
Athena SWAN

In this story

Cathy McIlwaine

Vice Dean (Research), Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy