Imperial gains Athena SWAN recognition for efforts in promoting women in science


Scientists at work with microscopes

The efforts to support female academics by the Departments of Medicine and Aeronautics have been recognised with Athena SWAN awards.

Imperial’s Department of Medicine was successful in gaining a Silver award, and the Department of Aeronautics received a Bronze award.  This most recent success brings the total number of Athena SWAN awards the College holds to 14.

The awards scheme recognises commitment to advancing women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics with each award lasting for three years.

The award is a huge encouragement and will help drive the next stage of our development as a department

– Dr Jane Saffell

Led the Athena SWAN submission for Medicine

The Department of Medicine successfully upgraded its award to Silver from Bronze reflecting a number of initiatives over recent years, including a thriving mentoring scheme which is being adopted by other departments, alongside events including an academic & family life panel discussion.   The gap between numbers of male and female academics is slowing closing, and academic promotion application and success rates have edged slightly higher for women than men.

Professor Martin Wilkins, Head of the Department of Medicine commented:

"I am pleased to celebrate this recognition of our work which has also seen the closing gap between female and male academic numbers.  The new aim on our Department’s mission statement 'to build a strong and supportive academic community' signals our intent to progress in this area."

The Department of Aeronautics is at the beginning of its Athena SWAN journey achieving a Bronze award for the first time.  The work recognised ranges from additional staff training in areas such as unconscious bias, to changes to ensure the diversity of the community was represented on the website, as well as a wider change towards an internal culture of continuous improvement rather than acceptance of the status quo.  Inspired by the success of other Imperial departments, Aeronautics worked closely with the Department of Physics, currently working towards the Gold award, to apply some of the initiatives they have benefitted from. 

Professor Ferri Aliabadi, Head of the Department of Aeronautics said:

"We are delighted at the news of our Bronze award and are grateful for the efforts of all those who have contributed to this success.  Our focus for future development will not just concentrate on the environment we work in, but how we can support outreach activities to widen the appeal of the field of aeronautics."

Professor Dorothy Griffiths, Provost’s Envoy for Gender Equality, has been heavily involved in the Athena SWAN awards since their infancy.  She said:

"This signals to the outside world our commitment to our academic women.  Working towards an Athena SWAN Award provides an opportunity to think about the environment we create for our academic staff to work in and how we nurture talent. This is to the benefit of everyone: any time we don’t support a woman, an opportunity to nurture a talented scientist is lost."

The awards ceremony will be held on 15 June 2015 at the University of Greenwich.


Henry Rothery

Henry Rothery
Communications and Public Affairs

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