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17 May 2019

Promoting gender equality within and beyond King's

Our progress and commitment to gender equality has been recognised with an Athena SWAN Silver Award.

Students sitting at a table in discussion.
Postgraduate students sitting around a table talking and laughing.

It’s no secret that nursing and midwifery are predominantly female professions. In our Faculty, the staff and student population tell a similar story, being made up of 88% female, 12% male and 0.1% other identified genders. So, how do we approach gender equality when the proportion of women is greater than men?

In our Faculty we recognise that like the profession more broadly, underrepresentation in nursing and midwifery occurs at different levels for men and women. We want to increase male representation but are also committed to removing the barriers to career development that can still occur for women. Our progress so far and our commitment to further development in this area has been recognised by AdvancedHE, who have given us an Athena SWAN Silver Award.

The Faculty is a long-standing follower of the principles promoting gender equality, set out in the Athena SWAN Charter. Our commitment to adopting the Charter was first recognised with a Silver Award in 2014. Recently, the principles of the Charter were expanded to recognise the advancement of gender equality, representation, progression and success for all. In April 2019, under the expanded set of principles, we were again awarded Silver.

The ways in which we have created an inclusive and supportive environment for our staff and students include better inductions for newcomers, improved support for promotions, new career pathways for teachers and flexible working. The images we use on our website, to promote our courses and on social media reflect our diversity and our commitment to increasing male representation.

Since our last Athena SWAN submission

  • Pre-registration students and recent graduates can join our mentoring programme to help them transition from university into their careers.
  • Our work to improve the policies and support for students taking maternity leave has led to an increase in students returning to their studies, from 77% to 92%.
  • We regularly review membership to both staff and student committees, to help ensure proportional representation for men and women.
  • We led on the development of an academic education career pathway for our staff whose focus is more on teaching than research. This has now been rolled out across the university.
  • To help more of our staff successfully apply for promotion, we set up an advisory panel for applicants, established coaching sessions for applicants and managers and developed a more robust personal development review process. And the promotions success rate has risen from 57% to 100%.

We are immensely proud that the Nursing & Midwifery has been awarded a silver Athena SWAN Charter mark. This award recognises that our policies and practices are having an impact on student and staff recruitment, career progression and the working environment.

Dr Emma Briggs, Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team Chair

Continuing to make a positive impact

Our Athena SWAN Silver Award is not just for what we’ve achieved so far. It’s also for our commitment to keep on improving and to have a positive impact on the lives of our staff and students.

Our ambitions over the coming years are set out in our four-year action plan alongside our vision for gender equality and our values of inclusivity and respect. Building on the progress we’ve made so far, our plan will continue our development in areas such as promoting leadership amongst our staff and students, removing barriers to career development and challenging stereotypes in the fields of nursing and midwifery.

Our Gender Equality strategy clearly defines our vision, values and goals in this context. Our four-year plan has actions for women, men and trans students and staff. We are committed to promoting gender equality within and beyond King’s College London, to challenge gender stereotypes and working with staff and students to remove barriers to their career progression.

Dr Emma Briggs

Another of our goals is to demonstrate national and international leadership on gender equality. In autumn 2019, we will be launching the Athena SWAN National Network for Nursing & Midwifery (ASNNaM) with colleagues in all four UK countries and Ireland. The network will share and advance gender equality practices in nursing and midwifery departments and will help us towards our ambition of applying for an Athena SWAN Gold Award in 2022.

Athena SWAN Awards in our Faculty

Our Faculty currently holds two Athena SWAN Silver Awards. The above article refers to the latest award, covering nursing, midwifery and professional services teams in the Faculty. The Cicely Saunders Institute for Palliative Care joined with the Faculty in 2017 and holds an Athena SWAN Silver Award for the Institute.