Athena SWAN Bronze Award
Main submission form
Athena SWAN Bronze award application form
Name of institution: University of Leeds Year: 2009
Contact for application: Kathy Aveyard
Faculty of Biological Sciences (Institute of Membrane and Systems
Biology, Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, Institute of
Molecular and Cellular Biology, Undergraduate School, Graduate School),
Faculty of Engineering (Schools of Civil Engineering, Computing,
Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and
Process, Environmental & Materials Engineering)
Faculty of Environment (School of Earth & Environment, School of
Geography, Institute for Transport Studies),
Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences (Schools of Chemistry,
Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy, Proctor Department of Food
Faculty of Medicine and Health (Dental Institute, School of Healthcare,
School of Medicine, School of Psychology)
An Athena SWAN Bronze award demonstrates that an institution as a whole has
a solid foundation of policies and practices to eliminate gender bias and an
inclusive culture that values female staff. We also look for evidence of
commitment to the 6 Athena SWAN principles at a senior level.
Click here for additional guidance on completing the form.
Letter of endorsement from a Vice-Chancellor
An accompanying letter of endorsement from your Vice-Chancellor (or
equivalent) should explain how SWAN plans and activities contribute to the
overall university strategy (maximum 500 words). The letter provides the
opportunity for the Vice-Chancellor to confirm their support for the application
and to endorse and commend any activities which have made a significant
contribution to the achievement of the university mission in relation to science,
engineering and technology (SET).
1. Description of the institution
Provide a summary of your institution (maximum 250 words), including
information such as whether it is research or teaching focussed, the number of
students and staff (academic and support staff separately), association with
university mission groups (e.g. 1994 group, Russell Group, Million+), the size of
the SET departments and any other relevant contextual information.
The University of Leeds is a member of the Russell Group of Universities
and the Worldwide Universities Network, both of which our Vice Chancellor
currently Chairs, and a research-intensive University dedicated to the
concept of research-led teaching and which strives to create, advance and
disseminate knowledge and develop outstanding graduates and scholars
to make a major impact upon global society. Leeds was placed 14th overall
in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (8th in Research Power) and its
vision is to secure a place among the world’s top 50 Universities by 2015.
The majority of its activities are based on a single campus on the outskirts
of Leeds city centre, one of very few Russell Group Universities to have a
full campus so close to the heart of a city. Facts and figures about the
university can be found at
The University has 9 academic faculties, 5 of which fall under the SET
definition: Biological Sciences, Engineering, Environment, Maths and
Physical Sciences (MAPS) and Medicine and Health (M&H). Our medical
and biosciences research bases are amongst the largest in the UK.
The total number of academic and research staff employed is ~ 2,500 (36%
female), of whom over 1,800 are employed in the SET Faculties. Of these
35% are female, as illustrated in the attached statistical report.
The total number of students at the University is 30,500 from over 130
countries (59% female), of whom 14,576 are based in the SET faculties (56%
2. Institutional policies and procedures
Provide evidence of the following policies, preferably through hyperlinks to your
website. Briefly explain (maximum 100 words for each) how these policies are
disseminated and communicated and what training is given on implementing
them. (E – Expected)
(i) Gender Equality Scheme (GES) and/or action plan. (E)
The Gender Equality Scheme and Action Plan were developed in
consultation with the 3 campus unions. In developing the Scheme,
academic women were consulted on their experiences of career
development and promotion. The scheme is posted on the University’s
web site and annual reports are brought to the attention of staff as a news
item on the intranet site. Issues of gender equality are incorporated into a
range of equality and diversity training sessions, including an e-learning
pack, recruitment and selection training, and equality and diversity
briefings for leaders and managers and learning and teaching staff.
(ii) Equal Opportunities Policy. (E)
The equality and diversity statement indicates the University’s commitment
and is incorporated into a wide range of University documents including all
staff and student recruitment literature and handbooks. It is also available
on the web.
As described in (i) above, there are a number of targeted equality and
diversity training sessions offered to staff. In addition, equality and
diversity considerations are included as an integral part of other forms of
training (e.g. for reviewers under the Staff Review and Development
Scheme, for members of promotions panels, for new staff at induction, and
for recently appointed senior staff)
(iii) Flexible Working Policy. (E)
This forms one section of a more comprehensive suite of Work-Life
Balance policies. It is a leading example of best practice in that it goes
beyond minimum legal requirements, offering all staff the opportunity to
apply to work flexibly. The University recognises the importance of flexible
working and a Statement on Flexible Working was launched at the annual
Staff Benefits Fair in March 2009 to further emphasise commitment to this
concept and to encourage managers to respond positively to requests
under the policy. The Policy and Statement are available on the HR web site
(iv) Harassment Policy and Procedures. (E)
The University’s Code of Practice on Harassment and Bullying is
underpinned by a range of support mechanisms, including support from H
R Managers, Diversity Officers, a staff counselling service and a Mediation
Service, publicised by banners and posters across the University.
In 2008 a University-wide stress survey highlighted higher than anticipated
levels of harassment/bullying in some areas. This has led to appropriate
local interventions, as well as a high-level review of the Code of Practice on
Harassment and Bullying to ensure that it is a useful and practical
document and reflects best practice in this area of management.
(v) Maternity/parental/adoption/paternity leave policies. (E)
These policies form part of the Work-Life Balance suite of policies. All are
available on the web, or as hard copy from HR.
In addition to the University’s central policies, the Faculty of Medicine and
Health has established a fund to support academic staff returning from
long term absence, including Maternity Leave, to assist their return to their
The Faculty of Engineering also has a “Policy on Support for Research
Staff Returning from Long-Term Absence”, which includes return from
Maternity Leave. Such support may include additional technical support,
reduced teaching commitments, flexible working and personal guidance.
(vi) Training and development policies. (E)
All staff are required to engage with the Staff Review and Development
Scheme at least annually.
The University has a well established and extensive Staff and Departmental
Development Unit (SDDU), which includes clearly identified teams covering
training for: research students, research staff, learning and teaching,
leadership and management. The range of courses offered is regularly
reviewed, with particular reference to training needs identified through the
Staff Review and Development Scheme. Additional training and
development is provided by other services such as the Library, Careers
Service and Information Systems Services.
(vii) Work-life balance policy.
As described under (iii) and (v) above, the University has a suite of policies
and procedures which combine to form the Work Life Balance suite. All are
available to staff on the web or as hard copy from HR. They are brought to
the attention of new staff in recruitment documentation and during their
(viii) Equal pay reviews and action plans.
There is a commitment to a comprehensive equal pay review as part of the
University’s Gender Equality Scheme Action Plan. Following the
implementation of a new pay and grading structure underpinned by the role
analysis tool HERA, the University is confident that it meets the
requirements of equal pay for work of equal value. It is, however,
recognised that gender pay imbalances can have other underlying causes
and is committed to identifying and remedying them. An initial internal
“health check” will be followed up by engaging external consultants to
provide in-depth analysis and advice.
(ix) Other relevant policies and procedures (see guidance).
The University recognises the importance of supporting the career
development of staff at all levels. Following the implementation of the
revised pay and grading structure, existing promotions procedures were
reviewed. Key features of the revised procedures include increased
transparency, with clear competency-based standards for each category
and grade of staff. As part of the review, the membership of promotions
panels was also reviewed, resulting in a significant change to the
membership of the Senior Lectureships committee, in particular, from one
that was predominantly male, to one which has 50% female representation.
Training for Panel members includes equality/gender awareness.
3. Baseline gender data
Provide data for the past three years (including appropriately labelled graphical
illustrations where possible) on the data sets listed below. (E – Expected)
Tables and graphical illustrations should be included in a separate spreadsheet
with the data clearly labelled.
(i) Female:male ratio of academic staff at each grade – researcher,
lecturer, senior lecturer, reader, professor (or equivalent) – across the
whole institution and in SET departments. (E)
(ii) Female:male ratio of Heads of School/Faculty/Department across the
whole institution and in SET departments. (E)
(iii) Female:male ratio of academic staff job application and success
rates – across the whole institution and in SET departments. (E)
(iv) Female:male ratio of academic staff promotion rates across the
institution and in SET departments. (E)
(v) Gender balance on the senior management team at university level. (E)
(vi) Gender balance on influential committees at university level. (E)
(vii) Female:male ratio of academic staff on fixed-term contracts vs.
open-ended (permanent) contracts – across the whole institution and in
SET departments. (E)
(viii) Female:male academic staff turnover rates by grade and maternity
return rates – across the whole institution and in SET departments. (E)
(ix) Evidence from equal pay audits/reviews.
(x) Female:male ratio of staff in the Research Assessment Exercise
(RAE) 2008 – across the whole institution and in SET departments.
(xi) Other relevant data, e.g. results from staff surveys.
4. Analysis of baseline data
Please evaluate and comment on the data from the previous section where
applicable (maximum of 100 words per question).
(i) Gender balance of academic staff – comment on the main areas of
concern and how you plan to address them. For example, is there
evidence that women and men are appropriately represented at all levels
of the workforce? Are there differences in SET departments? (E)
In SET Faculties, the proportion of women correlates well with the
University-wide figure at all levels, except that of Lecturer – SET women do
not appear to progress so easily from researcher to lecturer, which needs
to be investigated.
The SET figures mask variations between Faculties, with Medicine and
Health showing the highest and Engineering the lowest proportion of
women at all grades.
As a result of various interventions since our major consultation exercise
in 2006 the proportion of women at Senior Lecturer (SL), Reader and
Professor has steadily increased across the University.
(ii) Gender balance at Head of School/Faculty/Department level –
comment on the main areas of concern and achievement and how you
plan to address them. For example, are women and men appropriately
represented at this level? Are there any differences in SET departments?
In 2008, Professor Jane Francis was appointed Dean of the Faculty of
Environment, the first female Dean of a SET Faculty.
Of the women Heads of School across the University, the majority are
based in SET Faculties. The proportion of female:male Heads of School in
SET Faculties matches or exceeds the norm across the University.
The proportion of women Deans and Heads reflects, to some degree, the
proportion of women Professors available to take on such roles and this is
being addressed in the work on revising promotions procedures (Section 2
(iii) Job applications and success rates – comment on any implications of
this for the institution and how you plan to address any disparities. For
example, are women and men equally successful at all stages of the job
application process? Are there differences in SET departments? (E)
Across the University the proportion of women applying for academic
posts is lower than men, the data weighted by the low numbers of women
applicants in SET Faculties. Of those who apply, however, the success
rate is largely consistent with the proportion of applicants.
In the SET Faculties, the proportion of women applicants is generally low,
with the exception of Medicine and Health where the figures are influenced
by applicants to nursing and midwifery courses in the School of
The success rate of women in 2006-07 was, however, significantly higher
than in the norm in Engineering and Biological Sciences.
(iv) Promotion rates – comment on any implications of this for the institution
and how you plan to address any disparities. For example, are men and
women equally likely to be put forward? Are male and female applicants
for promotion equally successful at all levels? Are there differences in SET
As a result of significant work to improve promotion application and
success rate of women academics to Senior Lecturer, Reader and
Professor level, the proportion of women applicants out of those eligible to
apply across the University has improved such that in 2008 the proportion
of women applicants was higher than the pool of potential applicants
across all 3 grades and the success rate of women was consistently higher
than men. This is reflected in the figures for SET Faculties.
(v) Gender balance on the senior management team – comment on the
numbers of men and women on the SMT and how you plan to address
any disparity. (E)
For the last 2 years, the Pro-Chancellor/Chair of Council has been a
woman. In 2008-09, of the 10 University members of Council, 6 are women.
The Vice Chancellor’s Executive Group includes the 11 most senior officers
of the University. Two of the four Pro-Vice Chancellors are women, as is
the Director of Finance.
Recruitment to, and selection for, such senior posts is open and
transparent - selection is on merit. However, in recognition of the low
representation of women in such posts, women identified as having
potential to operate at this level are approached and encouraged to apply.
(vi) Gender balance on influential university committees – comment on
the main areas of concern and how you plan to address them. For
example, are women and men appropriately represented on senior
decision-making committees? How do you avoid committee overload
where numbers of women are small? How are vacancies filled and women
encouraged onto committees, especially where turnover is low? Are the
positions advertised? (E)
Female membership of influential committees is relatively low, partially
reflecting the fact that men currently hold many of the roles such as Pro-
Dean for Learning and Teaching or Research, Director of Graduate School
The proportion of women on senior promotions committees reflects the
proportion of women available to take up such positions. Significant work
went into improving the gender balance of the Senior Lectureships
promotions committee, after which the proportion of women increased
from 12% to 48% in 2007-08. Membership of the Senior Lecturer and
Readerships Committees is under review and care will be taken to ensure
(vii) Fixed-term contracts – comment on the implications of the gender
balance for the institution and for women’s career development. For
example, is there evidence that women are overrepresented on fixed-term
contracts? Are there differences in SET departments? (E)
At University level and in SET Faculties, the proportion of women on fixed
term contracts (FTCs) is lower than men, but higher than the proportion on
permanent contracts. Also, the proportion of women on FTCs is higher
than the proportion of men on FTCs.
The University has policies on the management of staff on fixed term
contracts and the employment of researchers, which emphasise the need
to move staff onto permanent contracts after 4 years of employment.
Further work is needed to explore whether the high proportion of women
relates to length of service, or other gender-related issues.
(viii) Staff retention rates – comment on any implications of this for the
institution and how you plan to address any disparity. For example, are
women and men equally likely to leave the institution (unplanned turnover
of staff)? Are there any differences in SET departments? Are the reasons
for leaving picked up in exit interviews? (E)
There is no significant evidence that female turnover is higher than male at
either University or SET Faculty level. When comparing female turnover
between the University and SET Faculties, the figures in general are
slightly lower for women in SET, which contrasts with the male pattern,
where turnover is generally slightly higher in SET.
Out of 44 women commencing maternity leave between 2004 and 2007,
only 1 woman (not from a SET Faculty) did not return.
There may be some merit in implementing exit interviews to explore further
the reasons for individuals leaving the University.
(ix) Equal pay audits – comment on the findings from your most recent equal
pay audit and how you plan to address any disparities.
The University has introduced a revised pay and grading structure,
underpinned by role analysis, to ensure that all staff are appropriately
graded. As part of this process the role of every current member of staff
was reviewed and all subsequent appointments have been analysed to
ensure they are correctly graded.
The University is in the process of carrying out an internal equal pay audit,
with a view to contracting external consultants to review the outcomes and
advise on actions to be taken.
(x) RAE 2008 – comment on any implications of this for the institution. For
example, does the gender balance of staff included in the RAE 2008
broadly reflect the gender balance across the institution? Are there any
differences in SET departments?
Prior to the 2008 RAE, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Staff with the Head of
Equality met with Deans and Research Pro-Deans to scrutinise Faculty
submission plans to ensure that nobody was excluded for reasons
unrelated to research quality e.g. any of the mitigating circumstances
allowed for in judging research output. As a result, the University was
confident that those excluded were for valid reasons unrelated to gender or
other equality issues.
In the final submission, the proportion of women excluded was higher than
that of men. For those excluded, Staff Reviewers were requested to pay
particular attention to development needs for the future.
(xi) Comment on any other data you have provided, detailing how you plan to
address any gender disparities.
The outcomes from the University’s Work Related Stress Survey have been
analysed by the University Wellbeing Team and an action plan developed
to address identified concerns. For example, the work has resulted in the
establishment of a high level working group to review and revise the
University’s Code of Practice on Harassment and Bullying, chaired by the
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Staff and Students.
5. Supporting and advancing women’s careers
Describe the following activities in your institution that are supportive to women’s
career progression in your SET departments (maximum 200 words per section).
(i) Career development training at key transition points – describe any
additional support given to women at the key career transition points
across the institution, and in SET departments, such as support for new
lecturers or routes for promotion through teaching and learning. Are
women encouraged to participate in conferences and attend other external
events where there are opportunities for networking? (E)
All staff participate in the Staff Review and Development Scheme, which
provides feedback on performance, and determines future objectives and
personal development plans. Reviewer training covers equality awareness,
including the need to take account of mitigating circumstances when
considering academic profiles.
There are clear career pathways for staff whose main focus is either
Teaching and Research or Teaching and Scholarship. Promotion
procedures have been recently revised and new promotion advisers will be
trained to assist applicants in putting forward the best possible application.
Following recognition that women were less well represented at higher
grades, meetings were held with female academic staff to explore barriers
to promotion. This was taken into account when developing revised
promotion procedures and some positive action has been taken e.g.
positively encouraging women to apply for promotion and senior
The Staff and Departmental Development Unit (SDDU) offers an extensive
range of free training courses aimed at Academic staff. Those relating to
Learning and Teaching are at: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/sddu/lt/ulta/ulta.html
(for Research, see (ii) below)
The University Teaching Fellowship Scheme (UTFS) was established in
2001 to promote and reward excellence in the provision of learning and
teaching and to demonstrate the commitment of the University to
celebrating good practice.
(ii) Researcher career support and training – describe any additional
support provided for researchers at the early stages of their careers, such
as networks and training. (E)
Each Faculty has a dedicated Research Training and Development
Manager, linked to the research arm of the Staff and Departmental
Development Unit, managed by Odette Dewhirst:
The University runs positive action "Springboard" programmes which have
been recently extended to encompass women working in research and
academic roles, with investment in 2 additional licensed trainers.
SDDU offers an extensive range of development opportunities and
resources relating to the development of a career in research, from courses
and resources for postgraduate research students through the whole
spectrum to leadership development for Principal Investigators.
A number of annual reports to Research Councils UK describing the work
of a Researcher Training and Career Development Steering Group are
available on the web at:
In addition, the University’s Career Centre offers courses for research staff
at an early career stage to assist with career planning, CV development and
(iii) Flexible working – describe how eligibility for flexible and part-time
working is advertised to staff and the overall uptake across the university.
What training is provided for managers? How do you monitor the policy
and how successful it has been? (E)
Extract from Recruitment Policy:
The University aims to be a ‘best practice’ employer. It recognises that, in
order to promote equality and diversity, and to address and retain the
highest quality work force, its employment policies need to be flexible and
The University not only fully embraces the legislative provisions but strives
to emulate best employment practice to help all staff balance the demands
Full details are available in the Work Life Balance Policy found at:
The University has recently developed a Statement on Flexible Working
aimed at raising awareness of the Policy and its benefits to staff and their
managers which includes a clear statement from the Vice Chancellor in
support of flexible working:
This is publicised by HR, Staff Development and the Equality Service
through a variety of briefing and training interventions such as during
University-wide introductory days for all new staff, annual briefings for new
Deans, Heads of School and Senior Managers, compulsory Equality and
Diversity briefings for all leaders, managers and staff reviewers.
Uptake of flexible working options is not formally monitored since many
requests are dealt with informally at local level, rather than resorting to the
(iv) Parental leave (including maternity, parental, adoption and paternity
leave) – how many women are returning full-time and part-time? How is
teaching and research covered during parental leave? What support is
given after returning from parental leave or a career break? What funding
is provided to departments to support returning staff? (E)
These policies are also encompassed in the Work Life Balance suite of
policies. Maternity, Paternity and, to a lesser extent, Adoption Leave are
used by staff at all levels. Applications for Parental Leave are less
frequent, which is thought to be because it is unpaid.
Maternity Leave Return Rates
See Section 3 (viii) for statistics.
In the SET Faculties, all 19 women who went on Maternity Leave over a 4
year period from 2004 – 2007 returned to work at the University, including 2
who returned part time, having been full time beforehand. Of the 19, 3 have
subsequently been promoted (1 to Lecturer and 2 to Senior Lecurer).
The Faculty of Engineering has a well established scheme to support staff
returning from long term absence, including return from Maternity Leave.
This can take a variety of forms e.g. additional research support or buying
out teaching time for a period.
In 2009 the Faculty of Medicine and Health also established a fund to
provide such support. Consideration will be given to extending similar
support to women in other Faculties as part of the Athena SWAN Action
(v) Mentoring and networking – describe any mentoring programmes,
including any SET-specific mentoring programmes, and opportunities for
networking. Comment on their uptake and effectiveness.
The University operates a Research Mentoring Scheme for all research
The Faculty of Engineering has established a mentoring and support
scheme for research staff: Professional Advancement aCross Engineering
(PACE). Although it will support both male and female research staff, it
recognises the need to particularly support women and foster their
professional ambitions and advancement
The Research Support Unit operates 8 e-mail networks, 6 of which have a
specific SET focus. These are open to all staff engaged in research and are
used to circulate information on funding opportunities, as well as allowing
members to exchange information, advertise seminars, seek collaborators
The Researcher Training and Development Managers from the Faculties of
Engineering and Environment are exploring the practicalities of
establishing a WiSET network group.
(vi) Transparent workload models – describe the systems in place to ensure
that work, including pastoral and administrative responsibilities, is
allocated transparently and equitably.
It is University policy that all Schools will develop fair and transparent
Workload Models to apportion workload appropriately between the key
areas of academic work (teaching, research and
management/administration). Such models are of value to staff who may
choose to work part-time e.g. women returning from Maternity Leave. They
also help to focus on the need to take a pro-rata approach to academic
achievement during Staff Review meetings and when judging promotion
(vii) Work-life balance – describe the measures taken by your institution to
ensure that meetings and other events are held during core hours and to
discourage a long hours culture.
The University has launched a Statement on Flexible Working, reinforcing
the importance of recognising the work-life balance needs of staff,
endorsed by a Vice Chancellor’s statement which includes:
“We need to make sure that the way we work fits the world we live
in. The composition of the workforce, the nature of life outside
work and the expectations of people at work are constantly
changing. I am clear that flexible working is crucial to our ability
to recruit and retain the best staff and perform at a world-class
The current programme of compulsory Equality and Diversity training for
all leaders, managers and staff reviewers places strong emphasis on the
importance of recognising work – life balance, actively discouraging a long
hours culture. This is also reflected in a forthcoming revision to the
University’s Code of Practice on Harassment and Bullying being prepared
by HR, Wellbeing and the Equality Service and a draft e-mail Code of
Practice being prepared by the Communications Team.
The Faculties of Biological Sciences, Engineering and Environment
actively encourage all meetings to be encompassed within 9.00 – 5.00. In
addition, the Department of Food Science within the Faculty of MAPS has a
specific Out of Hours Working Policy.
(viii) Childcare – describe the institution’s childcare provision and how it is
communicated to staff. What is the take up?
The University operates an on-campus nursery and play scheme in
conjunction with the Students Union.
Work is currently underway to build a new nursery, which will extend the
number of places available from 75 to 144. Work is expected to be
completed by May 2009.
The University also operates a childcare voucher scheme that can
represent a significant saving on childcare.
As part of its work towards making the University more family friendly the
Equality Service has developed a "Policy on Support for Pregnant
Students and Students with Very Young Children". This encompasses
some postgraduate students who have employee status as part of research
teams on the first rung of the career ladder.
6. Raising the profile of women
Describe any activities in your institution that raise the profile of women in SET
generally and also help female staff to raise their own profile such as (maximum
250 words for all four sections):
(i) Conferences, seminars, lectures, exhibitions and other events.
A conscious effort is made to profile women in University literature and
exhibitions e.g. in the 2007 Centenary exhibition featuring leading figures
in the University.
(ii) Publicity materials, including the institution’s website or images used.
The Equality Service and Communications Team are working together to
ensure that the new Corporate Website (due summer 09) includes a diverse
representation of women and men in images and case studies.
Professor Carola Hunte’s work on Membrane Proteins:
Professor Constanze Bonifer’s work on Cancer research:
Professor Paola Caselli, recently appointed Professor of Astrophysics:
(iii) Providing spokeswomen for internal and external media opportunities.
50% of people attending Media Training in the current year were academic
Professor Paola Caselli in a Yorkshire Post article
Professor Jane Francis frequently appears on radio and TV e.g. science
programmes on BBC Radio 4, such as “In Our Time”, BBC2’s “Live from
Dinosaur island” and a documentary film on Arctic fossil forests.
Dr. Catriona Morrison appeared on The One Show’s Memory Week
Dr. Joan Ransley quoted in the Daily Telegraph on research into Nordic
Dr. Cath Noakes featured in the Yorkshire Post on the importance of UV
light in reducing the spread of TB in hospitals:
(iv) Nominations to public bodies, professional bodies and for external prizes.
Professor Jane Francis - Polar Medal for outstanding contribution to Arctic
and Antarctic research;
Professor Trudie Roberts appointed to the General Medical Council;
Professor Anne Neville appointed to the Royal Academy of Engineering’s
Chair of Emerging Technologies;
Dr. Olga Kubassova - Entrepreneur of the Year - Yorkshire Bioscience
Professor Pamela Rabbits - Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences
Dr. Kuldip Barj – OBE; and member of Prime Minister’s Commission on the
Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England
7. Further SET-specific initiatives
Describe any other SET-specific initiatives of special interest that have not been
covered in the previous sections, including past initiatives that did not work and
lessons learnt (maximum 200 words).
June 2009 - 2 day conference aimed at women postdoctoral and
postgraduate researchers in SET: Planning Your Life and Your Research
Career http://www.leeds.ac.uk/foe/skills/descriptions/plancareer.htm .
Faculty of Engineering: workshops on barriers to career progression
exploring issues such as career breaks and work life balance.
Visit by Professor Jean Venables, the first female president of the Institute
of Civil Engineers, providing an inspirational role model for female staff
Festival of Research and Public Engagement “Make some Noise” in which
postgraduate students shared their research with 6th form science pupils.
This included a poster competition in which 2 of the 3 winners were
The Faculties of MAPS and Environment hold monthly workshops and
networking events for women researchers:
Dr. Hannah Dee has organised and hosted the British Computing Society
Lovelace Colloquium, a UK wide event for women students of computing:
Examples of outreach and public engagement include:
Public lectures by Professor Jane Francis for the Geological Society of
Public talks to amateur societies by Professor Paola Caselli e.g.
Public events (public art, school activities) about life on Mars, featuring the
research of Professor Liane Benning
8. The self-assessment process
Describe the Self-Assessment Team members (maximum 40 words per member)
and the action planning process, including any consultation processes that were
undertaken with staff (maximum 500 words in total).
In 2001/02 Penny Hatton, Director of Staff and Departmental
Development led an investigation into the promotion and progression of
women at the University of Leeds which won an Athena Award in 2002.
This began to raise awareness of many of the problems facing women
In 2006, following the recognition that the proportion of female
academics decreased as grade increased, the University undertook a
consultation exercise with academic women to explore any actual
and/or perceived barriers to their promotion. This was carried out by
the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Staff and Students, in partnership with the
University and Colleges Union, Human Resources, Staff Development
and the Equality Service. Although this was not SET specific, the
issues raised are of relevance to women in the SET Faculties and the
outcomes of this work have underpinned a number of subsequent
initiatives to improve the situation.
Soon after the University became a member of the Athena SWAN
Charter in May 2008, a small Steering Group was established, chaired by
Professor Jane Francis, Dean of the Faculty of Environment. The
membership included the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Staff, the Head of the
Staff and Departmental Development Unit, a senior Equality and
Diversity Manager and women Professors from each of the relevant
Faculties to champion the work in their areas.
Following on from this, Steering Group (SG) members helped to identify
other staff who might usefully contribute to overseeing a Bronze Award
application, contribute to the development and monitor the progress of
an Action Plan. A brief biography of the members of this Self
Assessment Team (SAT) (including members of the Steering Group) is
attached as Appendix 1.
A number of meetings were held with the SG and SAT to discuss
progress and contribute ideas for inclusion in the report and associated
Action Plan. Those who were unable to attend the meetings were kept
abreast of the developing draft by e-mail and invited to contribute ideas
The process of compiling the Athena SWAN Bronze Award application
was, in itself, a valuable exercise both in confirming how much has
been achieved as a result of the earlier research and in highlighting
further work that needs to be carried out. Of particular value was the
exercise of drawing together the statistics for Sections 3 and 4 -
particularly for larger and more diverse Faculties, such as Medicine and
Health, where analysis at Faculty level masks underlying trends at the
level of School or Institute.
The Action Plan itself is a starting point for further progress. Some of
the actions will be implemented at the level of the University. It will,
however, be important to communicate the statistics gathered at
Faculty, School and Institute level so that local action plans can be
developed and areas identified which are ready to progress towards one
or more Silver awards in subsequent years.
9. Action plan
Provide an action plan as an appendix. This should be a table or a spreadsheet
comprising plans to address the priorities identified by the data and within this
application, the person responsible for each action and a timeline for completion.
It should cover current initiatives and your aspirations for the next three years.
10. Any other comments
Please comment here on any other elements which you think relevant to the
application, e.g. recent mergers between departments (maximum 200 words).
There is a clearly recognised link between the principles of the Athena
SWAN Charter and the University’s Strategic Plan. Much work has already
been undertaken to improve the attraction and retention of women and
membership of the Athena SWAN Charter is helping to validate this work
and encourage further progress.
Human Resources has also carried out a great deal of work on improving
the careers of Research Staff. The University was at the forefront in
responding to legislation restricting the use of fixed-term contracts and to
the Concordat to support The Career Development of Researchers. It has
developed a Policy on the Employment of Researchers (attached) showing
clear responsibilities at all levels.
The establishment of the Athena SWAN Steering Group and Self
Assessment team has improved the profile of our work to support the
careers of women in SET. Members act as 'eyes and ears' to pick up and
report on local initiatives, as well as issues that need to be addressed. For
example, one member of the SAT noted an image in an Engineering
publication that appeared to caricature women in laboratories. This was
brought to the attention of the University and the image amended.