2021 Minerva Informatics Equality Award goes to EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems
EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Robotics and Autonomous Systems won the sixth edition of the Minerva Informatics Equality Award. This year’s Minerva Award was presented at a ceremony on 26 October 2021, during the 17th European Computer Science Summit (ECSS 2021), a hybrid event in Madrid and online.
Supporting women throughout their career
The award, presented by Informatics Europe and sponsored by Google, recognises best practices in departments or faculties of European universities and research labs that encourage and support the careers of women in Informatics research and education.
The candidates for Minerva Award are considered in a three-year cycle, with each year’s focus dedicated to a different stage of the academic career: developing the careers of female faculty, supporting the transition for PhD and postdoctoral researchers into faculty positions, and recruiting and retaining female students in Computer Science/Informatics programmes.
The winners are selected by a team of prominent international experts in an evaluation process that run each year from May to August.
The award carries a prize of 5,000 Euros. The grant is to be used for further work on promoting gender equality.
CDT in RAS’ recipe for success
According to Professor Brenda Murphy (University of Malta), a member of the 2021 Minerva Committee, this year the candidates were particularly strong. CDT in RAS stood out thanks to their holistic approach: rather than focusing on a single activity, the CDT puts their efforts into a range of activities around recruitment, training and support.
It has been crucial to our approach that we combine a wide range of diversity initiatives to embed inclusion at the centre of our culture. For example, in recruitment, we start by including visits to universities by inspiring female academics. We then ensure gender-inclusive language is used throughout our application process, and arrange for wide representation on interview panels to make the selection process fair and transparent. We require our academic and support staff to take Unconscious Bias Training and our students have a mandatory Diversity in the Workplace course in their first year.
We are extremely honoured to receive this prestigious award in recognition of our ongoing commitment to supporting equality, diversity and inclusion at the centre. We have collaborated closely across all areas of the CDT to recruit and retain gender diverse students, with our numbers increasing strongly year on year since 2017. Female and gender non-binary students made up 33% of the 2020 cohort with 100% retention of these students from the 2019 and 2020 cohorts. We are enormously proud of the success of all our students and are committed to growing and building on our existing initiatives to create a welcoming, inclusive environment and to further widen the pool of diverse and talented individuals choosing robotics as a career.
EPSRC CDT in Robotics and Autonomous Systems is hosted by the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, a joint venture between the Universality of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, and forms part of the new National Robotarium.