“Our aim has always been to develop good practices that are fair, flexible, transparent and beneficial to all. This has been really important in keeping the support of all of the department’s staff over the last decade and has led to inclusivity, which goes far beyond the original remit of Athena SWAN and aims to provide a welcoming environment, which actively supports all members of the department, irrespective of gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity or background.”
It is especially rewarding to see how some of our home-grown talent has developed
So has this work made a difference? “The last 10 years have seen real and substantial progress in the numbers of female academic staff at all grades within the department,” says Caroline. “It is perhaps especially rewarding to see how some of our ‘home-grown talent’ (female staff who entered as junior lecturers) has developed. Dr Jacqui Hamilton, Dr Kirsty Penkman and I are all now Readers, while Lucy Carpenter is Professor and Deputy Head of Department (Research). All of us have benefited from the department’s policies, enabling us to work part-time and flexibly around our family responsibilities. Perhaps one of the most satisfying and remarkable achievements is the way in which part-time working is now widely accepted across the department, with several male academic staff also taking advantage of working part-time to balance family and work commitments.
“The biggest unsolved problem is that change is not fast. While you can certainly see clear changes happening over 10 years, effecting real changes over the three-year cycle of an Athena SWAN award is very challenging. It is also essential not to rest on our laurels and to recognise the ongoing challenges faced by all in higher education to ensure greater inclusion and success of those from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as those from black and minority ethnic communities.”