April 4, 2012, by Fraser

Equality award for the Faculty of Engineering

The Faculty of Engineering at The University of Nottingham has made a concerted effort to promote gender equality – and now these efforts have been recognised.

The Athena SWAN Charter has awarded the Faculty of Engineering a Silver Award. The Charter recognises good employment practice for women working in science, engineering and technology (SET) in higher education and research.

Progressing to the highest level

Dr Tony Stevens, Coordinator of the Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Group at the University, is passionate about enabling women from the SET disciplines to progress to senior academic positions.

Dr Stevens said: “It is absolutely critical that we get more women in science – but it is not a simple thing. It requires changes in culture and attitude across an entire organisation.

“We should be normalising this process rather than seeing it as something exceptional. Achieving a fair culture where everyone has a fair opportunity to progress is of the utmost importance.”

First Faculty to receive the award

While individual Engineering Departments have previously been given the Silver award, the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Nottingham is the first Faculty to receive the honour.

Dr Stevens said “Nottingham is leading the way regarding good working practices in our SET subject areas in general, and in engineering in particular. I am sure that the award will be something that’s seen by students and potential employees as a big positive when choosing where to study or work.”

“There has historically been a poor retention rate of women in science subjects and that’s why it is so important to develop appropriate measures to ensure women are able to progress into senior academic posts. It is good news for all staff in the Faculty of Engineering that Athena SWAN has recognised the progress that has been made in this important area. Good working practices benefit everyone.”

Leading the way in fair working practices

Professor Dame Julia Higgins, the Athena SWAN patron, is Emeritus Professor of Polymer Science in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London. She said:

“I have been involved in the Athena SWAN Charter since its inception, and very much involved in the Athena project from which it sprang. The numbers of female academics have grown a lot since Athena was set up around a decade ago, but the numbers are still too small – up from 1-2% of professors to around 12% now.

“More importantly the senior women are much more visible, and vocal. However, good practice is still hugely variable across and also within universities and the way Athena SWAN allows departments to measure themselves against the best has turned out to be an inspired way of motivating communities.”

Posted in Awards and accolades