We were delighted to have our Athena SWAN Gold Award renewed in 2019 in recognition of our continued leadership in supporting women in Chemistry. We were first awarded an Athena SWAN Gold Award in 2013 and prior to this we held a Silver Award. We are one of only two Chemistry Departments in the UK who continue to hold an Athena SWAN Gold and we were the first Department at Imperial to receive this accolade.
This award recognises our good practice in supporting women at all career stages including undergraduate, postgraduate and our postdoctoral, academic, professional and technical staff. In particular, we recognised that academic recruitment would be a key activity for us at the time of our expansion to our new campus at White City.
When we advertised for Lectureships in 2015, we put together a Search Committee to proactively encourage female applicants. We also gave personal feedback to all unsuccessful female applicants and offered mentoring to those we considered to have exceptional future potential. One of those who took up this offer secured a prestigious EPSRC Fellowship to join us in 2018, while another took up a Lectureship elsewhere at Imperial.
This work was highlighted as a “beacon activity” by the Institute of Physics. Of our recent academic hires in 2019, 40% were women.
We continue to be committed to enacting positive change for the women in our Department. As part of our Gold renewal application, we have committed to a number of ambitious aims including the following:
- We will introduce new guidelines to improve our induction processes in the Department to ensure all staff and students start their time with us on an equal footing.
- We will consult with staff who have taken parental leave and improve our communication on the availability of shared leave.
- We will stimulate nominations and create new awards within our Department to further recognise the achievements of our professional and technical staff.
- We will improve our staff training and raise awareness of issues faced by non-binary and trans individuals.