The University’s application to renew the Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award has been unsuccessful.
Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) is a charter established by the British Equality Challenge Unit in 2005. It works to encourage the advancement of women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Athena SWAN has since expanded beyond science-based subjects.
The Institutional Bronze Award addresses gender equality as well as overall diversity at universities.
In 2013, the University was awarded the Institutional Bronze Award for women in science.
The award recognises that “the University has a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff.”
However, the University’s recent application for renewal of that same award was unsuccessful, according to the principal’s office.
A full year has been given until the University can re-apply and Athena SWAN’s official commentary as to why the application was declined is in process of being written.
“As part of the University’s regular renewal process, we will be reapplying for the Athena Swan Award in November 2017. Our current Award is valid until then,” said a spokesperson for the University in a December email statement to The Saint.
The Saint also contacted the Equality Challenge Unit, which administers the Athena SWAN application, but no comment could be given until the official report is released.
The University Court discussed the matter and highlighted the need for an “ongoing improvement and demonstrable progress towards enhancing equality and diversity to indicate that procedural or cultural enhancement had practical effect.”
The same meeting demonstrated that reapplication was a priority, as failure to retain the award “might limit academics’ ability to access certain research council funding in a number of disciplines.”
The president of the Students’ Association, Charlotte Andrew, echoed the University’s sentiments:
“Promoting gender equality benefits everyone. I’m confident that our new principal is particularly invested in the areas that the Athena SWAN Charter focuses upon.
Additionally, the University’s support, financial and otherwise, for the creation of the new director of wellbeing sabbatical position proves that it is dedicated to highlighting the importance of equality throughout every element of the student and staff experience in St Andrews.”