Athena SWAN encourages and recognises commitment to advancing the careers of women in science and technology in higher education and research. The UK initiative is run by the Equality Challenge Unit.
Stephanie Millar, Equality Challenge Unit, joined Informatics staff and students at an informal presentation ceremony in the Forum, 24 February 2017.
The event was organised by Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator Dr Kami Vaniea, to mark the renewal of the School’s Athena SWAN Silver Award.
Speaking to a packed audience before a celebratory slice of cake, Head of School Professor Johanna Moore, explained:
“We won our first Athena SWAN Silver Award in 2013, with a submission led by Professor Jane Hillston. The awards are valid for three years, so we re-applied for Silver again in April 2016. This time our bid was led by Professor Mirella Lapata. Again we were successful.
“The work we do for Athena SWAN is important. Women are still under-represented in computing, despite being early pioneers in the field, and despite having a lot to bring to the table.
“Athena SWAN and the Equality Challenge Unit play a key role, because they help us to improve the recruitment, retention and promotion of women in the School. They encourage us to establish better working practices from which everyone benefits and they also help us to measure our progress.
“In 2011/12, the proportion of our undergraduates who were female was 15.3%, up from 13.8% in 2009/10. By 2015/16, the percentage had risen to 21.7%. Compare this with UCAS figures. In 2014 only 13% of new computer science students in the UK were female.
“So we’re bucking the trend at undergraduate level – but we still have a way to go. We want to see more women doing well at all levels in the School.”
Professor Lapata thanked everyone who had contributed to the success of the 2016 bid, including Jane Hillston, Helen New, Martin Wright, Heather Walker, Julie Young and the School’s HR team, Pim Totterdell, Anda Nicolson and all the staff and students on the Equality and Diversity Committee.
The audience had an opportunity to preview short films on the theme of Girls in Tech, which are being produced in line with the School’s Athena SWAN Action Plan.
Our next Athena SWAN application is due in 2019.