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Athena SWAN Silver Award for Department of Life Sciences

Back row, left to right: Dr Ruchira Mann, Dr Laura Hills, Dr Michael Thomas, Dr Victor Hernandez, Dr Ben Jennings, Dr Terry Dovey. Front row, left to right: Dr Kazunori Tomita, Dr Gudrun Stenbeck, Dr Raha Pazoki, Prof Alex Blakemore, Dr Riccardo Manca.

The Department of Life Sciences at Brunel University London has become the first part of the University to receive an Athena SWAN Silver Award, given in recognition of the enhanced strength of their support for gender equality in the department.

The Athena SWAN is a national scheme run by higher education improvement charity Advance HE, and aims to address gender equality more broadly – not just barriers to progression that affect women.

The award, valid for five years, builds on the department's previous Bronze Award and is in recognition of initiatives including:

  • significant progress towards gender equality among academic staff, which was supported by promotion-related activities
  • significant progress in terms of leadership of women following participation of women in the available leadership programmes
  • learning lessons from the pandemic and substantial improvements in flexible working
  • implementing activities and programmes that improve women’s career progression
  • cultural activities towards recognition of gender differences and their impact on women’s careers.

The application for the award also included a plan of action for the next five years, based around four key priorities:

  1. bringing gender equality into the curriculum and encouraging co-creation of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) material
  2. supporting staff to boost their research profile in response to the long-term effect of Covid-19 on research
  3. promoting gender balance in career progression for all staff
  4. Improving work and education prospects for staff and students from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Dr Raha Pazoki led the self-assessment team who submitted the application, comprising Dr Michael Thomas, Dr Gudrun Stenbeck, Dr Laura Hills, Dr Terry Dovey, Tina Barker and Kevin Sampson. The application was also supported by Brunel's Athena SWAN Review Committee and those involved in the self-assessment team's workstreams.

Dr Dovey, the Head of Life Sciences at Brunel, commented: "This is an achievement the whole department deserves and can rightly celebrate. The core team have been working on implementing changes to support all colleagues in their progression. This is something we are all passionate about in Life Sciences.

“Dr Pazoki – following the successful tenure of Dr Stenbeck in the role, along with their respective teams – has done an excellent job in supporting diversity in the Department. This achievement is the first Athena Swan Silver award for the University and something we should be rightly proud of achieving.

"Our Silver Award is a reward for how far we've come and how committed we are to continue improving our positive and inclusive working environment in Life Sciences."

Read more about Brunel University London's Department of Life Sciences.

Reported by:

Joe Buchanunn, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268821