Published on 26/01/2024
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Two students being taught human biology with models by a female lecturer
  • The Athena Swan Silver award recognises the College of Health and Life Sciences’ efforts to support and transform gender equality
  • The college has increased the number of female professors and the number of women in senior roles
  • The application was led by Dr Olivia Hunt and Professor Hannah Bartlett

Aston University College of Health and Life Sciences has received an Athena Swan Silver award, recognising its significant progression and achievements in gender equality.

The 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) in higher education and research. In 2015, the Athena Swan charter expanded to address gender equality more broadly, and for students and staff in all roles – academic, professional and support. The scheme monitors an institution’s progress towards equality and provides a clear framework to help an institution meet its objectives. The Athena Swan Charter is used worldwide. Three awards can be achieved, bronze, silver and gold.

The College of Health and Life Sciences was first awarded the Athena Swan Bronze award in 2014 and has held its current Bronze award since 2017. To achieve the Silver award, the college went through an application process based on demonstrating progress in its previous action plan. This was submitted in July 2023. An independent panel of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) experts felt that the college has demonstrated strong progress over the five-year assessment period.

The college has worked to embed inclusion in all its practices. For example, the proportion of female academic staff rose from 30% in 2017 to 42% in 2023, and 25% of professors are now women. The representation of women at senior levels of the college has risen through supporting those on teaching contracts to progress to higher grades. All roles on the senior management team and leadership roles are now advertised with open calls, and larger roles are made available as job shares, promoting inclusivity. The college has also created a new role of associate dean of people, culture and inclusion, with Rabia Ahmed in post from July 2023. 

The College of Health and Life Science’s application was led by Dr Olivia Hunt with invaluable support from the college’s Athena Swan self-assessment team and Professor Hannah Bartlett, the Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor Diversity & Inclusion.

Dr Hunt said:

“We are very pleased to have received the Silver award from Athena Swan. This was a culmination of a lot of work over the past number of years which culminated in our submission in July 2023. It reflects our progress to improve gender equality in both staff and student experience and the overall culture in the college.”

Professor Chris Langley, Acting Executive Dean of the College of Health and Life Sciences and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, said:

“The Athena Swan Silver award is testament to the hard work of my colleagues at the college and their determination to improve equality and inclusivity for everyone, staff and students alike. Aston University’s 2030 strategy includes a pledge to be an inclusive, caring and empowering environment for all, and the Athena Swan Silver award is a great endorsement of our efforts. An environment that celebrates equality, diversity and inclusion will foster and nurture the best talent, benefitting everyone.”

Notes to editors

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming the Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Helen Tunnicliffe, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7827 090240 or email: h.tunnicliffe@aston.ac.uk.

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