Areas of focus

More focused interventions in terms of BAME staff and student initiatives.

Extending caring responsibility to initiatives that focus on intergenerational caring. Developing actions that focus on supporting women during the menopause.

Current themes the HLS Athena Swan group are working towards:

  • moving beyond a focus on research staff to extend principles and actions to academic and professional services staff,
  • illustrating progression paths and developing role models,
  • supporting and increasing male staff and students (where there is an under-representation),
  • supporting and increasing BAME staff and students.

HLS Athena Swan Subgroups


The caring subgroup aims to understand the perspectives and experiences of staff at Oxford Brookes who are based in the Health and Life Sciences Faculty with caring responsibilities (this includes caring for children, family members with physical disabilities or mental health conditions, elderly relatives etc). The subgroup aims to establish what are the benefits and challenges for staff in fulfilling their paid roles and balancing caring responsibilities. The context of agile working practices, which is the model of work adopted by many staff during the pandemic, enables us to explore how higher education staff with caring roles can be supported and retained in a post-pandemic world.


The Menopause Sub-Group is focused on exploring the issue of perimenopause and menopause in the workplace. We are working on raising awareness about the impact that this phase of life can have on staff working at Oxford Brookes, and what the University can do to ensure it is offering a friendly and supportive working environment that takes account of some of the issues faced by those experiencing the effects of menopause, including advice for managers.

We are working on a number of initiatives at the moment, including;

  • a ‘Whole University’ Menopause Event - ‘Continuing the Dialogue Across the Organisation and Beyond’,
  • expanding the Chat Forum (Google Meet Room),
  • expanding the Menopause Café,
  • development of a Menopause webpage (using Google),
  • production of an Awareness Raising infographic and poster campaign creation of menopause 'Good Practice Guidance' policy.

“What a gift it was to meet Jill, listen to her amazing work at Oxford Brookes on the menopause.”

Ayşe Gül (Professor of Gender Studies Sabanci University, Turkey)

Profiles celebrating professional services

The contribution of professional services staff is never to be underrated in a university. This workstream focusses on supporting developmental opportunities and developing role models as well as celebrating professional services staff successes.

Athena Swan allies

The role of an 'Athena Champion' is to support peers and colleagues, act as a bystander in the face of conscious and unconscious biases and promote gender equality wherever possible. As such, the Athena Champions subgroup aims are to increase staff and student awareness of the great work currently being undertaken by the Athena Swan project team, increase accessibility for interested parties to contribute to this work, and to equip the Oxford Brookes Community with the required skills and resources to impact change.


Athena Swan surveys serve 3 purposes within the faculty. Their primary function is to gather both quantitative and qualitative feedback from staff with a wide range of job roles who may not otherwise voice their opinions. Secondly, the questions themselves raise awareness of the Athena Swan project and its scope, along with faculty initiatives. Finally, the survey results can inform actions which aim to improve career development and work-life balance, and foster a positive culture within the faculty.

Webpage development

One way of showcasing HLS Athena Swan to internal and external peers is via the dedicated webpage. We ensure that all information published on the website is kept up to date, as well as enhancing the design and content throughout the year. It provides a tool for communication to those wanting to learn more about Athena Swan in HLS, in particular using the video created in 2022 outlining the work of our subgroups, as well as providing a way for us to receive feedback and comments to continually improve and advance.

Gender minority stereotypes in Health and Social Science professions

The Athena Swan Gender Minorities subgroup in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences is looking to examine what we can do to resolve the obvious gender imbalances across a number of programmes. One key project involves 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.