• Athena SWAN

    As a University, we currently hold an Athena SWAN Bronze Award; the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences has been awarded a Silver status. The Athena Swan Charter recognises commitment to the advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all.

    Photo of Jill Childs
    Jill Childs - Principal Lecturer/ Programme Lead Social Work and Wellbeing - "I lead the Athena Swan award in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes University (SAT chair) where we currently hold a silver award. We lead on initiatives related to supporting professional service staff careers, caring and the menopause. Our work to develop initiatives to better support those experiencing menopause are outlined in this blog. Our work developed on caring during the pandemic has been recently highlighted at the Society for Research into Higher Education ‘Who Cares? Opportunities and Challenges Posed by Agile Working Practises for Carers in Transformative Times’. In addition to this, we are currently engaged in a British Council Project on advancing gender equality in STEM through a partnership with Brazilian universities. As a registered Social Worker of 25 years, I take an intersectional approach to gender equality, my work on anti racism and through being a winner of the Innovation Award at the University Alliance Awards 2022, and of the 'Most innovative approach to widening participation in the curriculum award' for the work Decolonising the Social Work Curriculum in the HE Innovate awards (3rd place)".

    ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. 

    In May 2015 the charter was expanded to all disciplines. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women. Professional and support roles are now included within the Charter.

    Photo of Ami Holder
    Ami Holder - Head of CPD and Training Unit - "I took part in Aurora – Developing women leaders in higher education back in 2019. This was a fantastic programme which enabled women from across the UK to meet and learn from each other in a safe space. I continue to connect with all the women I met in my action learning set, all of us have progressed in our careers within HE. Personally, Aurora (through the support of Athena Swan) has enabled me to understand that we all face the similar challenges as women, but through peer support, networking and particularly strong female mentoring that we can navigate barriers to professional growth. The programme gave me the confidence to consider further study, and since then I have started an MBA (Senior Leadership Apprenticeship)".

    We are committed to addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional and support functions. 

    We acknowledge that advancing gender equality demands commitment and action from all levels of the organisation and in particular active leadership from those in senior roles. In addition, we seek to develop our Gender Equality work to build synergy with our Race Equality agenda.

    Photo of Dan Butcher
    Dr Dan Butcher - Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing - "Athena Swan in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences has highlighted the variations that exist concerning gender equality and diversity in different parts of the organisation. Many of our programmes have significant gender imbalances. Athena Swan has prompted us to examine this and see what we can do to resolve the situation. One project we are undertaking is a collaboration across the fields of nursing, midwifery, social work, occupational therapy, and psychology to better support students who are part of a gender minority that is a feature of both their university experience and their professional working lives. In partnership with local NHS Trusts we are hoping to develop a multi-level mentoring/buddying scheme for students to gain support and guidance as they navigate the explicit and implicit consequences of being part of a gender minority."

    By currently holding a Silver Award, we have showcased the following:

    • Demonstrated particular challenges and plan activities for the future
    • Taken action in response to previously identified challenges (within or without the Athena SWAN process) and can demonstrate the impact of implemented actions
    • Achieved a significant record of activity in promoting gender equality and in addressing challenges across the Faculty
    • Athena SWAN charter principles well embedded within the Faculty and strong leadership in promoting the charter

    For more info visit the Athena SWAN website.


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