The Department of Psychology at the University of Chester has been recognised for its commitment to gender equality for staff and students.
The Department is now a proud holder of an Athena SWAN Bronze Award. Although the university is already a holder of the same award at an institutional level, psychology is the first department in the institution to achieve this status.
Athena SWAN is a national scheme, run by the Equality Challenge Unit, which recognises a commitment to advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges.
To achieve this, a dedicated team in the department went through a comprehensive process of data collection and reflection on different aspects of working life that are relevant to gender equality. These included the progression pipeline of students into academic careers and junior female staff to senior leadership positions, recruitment to posts and promotion, career development, research achievement, maternity and family leave, flexible working, workload, role models, and the implementation of equality, diversity, and dignity and respect policies.
From this assessment process, the team identified areas of success and areas for improvement, from which they developed a comprehensive 18-point, four-year action plan to address the latter. Most significantly, the department has developed a new Equality and Diversity Working Group, which will oversee the implementation of the action plan and build improvements to equality and diversity into daily working life. The Athena SWAN team involved three student representatives and 15 members of departmental and university staff. It was overseen by the chair, Dr Suzanne Stewart, who is senior lecturer in the department, and the head of psychology, Professor Ros Bramwell.
Dr Stewart said: “We are thrilled with our achievement of the Athena SWAN Bronze award. The team in Psychology distinguished themselves by their hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm in working on gender equality issues in our Department. However, we could not have been successful without the commitment and support of all our psychology colleagues, who engaged wholeheartedly with the application process, as well as our colleagues in other areas of the University who assisted the team and championed our efforts.”
Professor Ros Bramwell added: “Promoting gender equality in career opportunity is very important to me personally and so I am immensely proud of the Department of psychology’s achievement in gaining this award and look forward to the successful implementation of our action plan.”
Welcoming the news, Adrian Lee, pro vice-chancellor and Director of Legal Services, who chairs the University’s Equality and Diversity Forum, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and congratulations go in particular to Dr Stewart and Professor Bramwell.
Psychology will be justifiably proud to be the first department within the University to hold this award, which shows their level of ownership and commitment to addressing issues of gender equality within their specific workplace.”
The Bronze Athena SWAN award will be presented at a ceremony in London in November.