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Aston awarded major honour for gender equality commitment

Athena SWAN Award

1 May 2014

Aston University has been granted a major award and was lauded for its commitment to addressing gender inequalities in academia. 

The institution’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) received the prestigious Athena SWAN Silver Award, given to universities and higher education departments for supporting the careers of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). 

To be considered for a Silver award, the EAS was required to demonstrate that it had developed a coherent plan to work towards greater gender equality and that decisive action had been taken to identify and remove any obstacles to this goal. 

Professor Bjorn Birgisson, Executive Dean of EAS, said: “This is fantastic news. We are proud to join an elite group of universities who have been awarded this accolade. The Athena SWAN Awards are the national benchmark in reflecting how well higher education institutions are tacking the issue of equal representation in STEM departments. 

“We are delighted that our ongoing efforts to ensure that women are fairly represented in what is a traditional male dominated area have been recognised. We fully believe science can only reach its full potential when it benefits from the talents of the whole population.” 

We fully believe science can only reach its full potential when it benefits from the talents of the whole population

The Athena SWAN Charter, run by the Equality Challenge Unit, was launched in 2005 with the intention of promoting and advancing the representation of women in STEM subjects. Currently, only 13 per cent of all STEM jobs in the UK are occupied by women. 

The loss of women at later stages of a STEM career pathway is often referred to as ‘the leaky pipeline’. The Athena SWAN Charter is working to rectify this situation. 

In 2009, Aston University established an Athena SWAN task group, led by Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Alison Halstead, to closely examine the representation of women at all levels in EAS and the School of Life and Health Sciences. As a result, the University was awarded an Athena SWAN Bronze award in 2010. 

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For further media information, please contact Jonathan Garbett, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4552 or j.garbett@aston.ac.uk