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Brunel Vice-Chancellor to chair gender equality programme review


A major independent review of the Athena SWAN gender equality programme is to be chaired by Professor Julia Buckingham, Brunel University London's Vice-Chancellor and President.

The Athena SWAN Charter, run by the professional development body Advance HE, is a flagship accreditation scheme which recognises the work done by universities and research institutes nationwide to address gender equality within academia and research.

The Charter has been transformative, with 145 accredited organisations and 731 individual departments holding bronze, silver or gold awards and working to strengthen their commitment to the Charter's ten key principles through execution of their action plans.

The review announced by Advance HE will provide an opportunity to ensure that the Charter remains fit for the current and future needs of institutions, individuals and the higher education sector as a whole.

“Advance HE’s Athena SWAN Charter is something I am very passionate about," explained Prof Buckingham, "and I believe this review will provide an opportunity to re-consider its scope, which has evolved considerably in recent years, as well as the requirement levels for each of the awards and the application and review processes."

Prof Buckingham is a former member of the Athena Forum, an independent committee focused on diversity in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine (STEM), and is Brunel's first female Vice-Chancellor. She is also on the board of Universities UK and the National Centre for Universities and Business, Chair of the Researcher Concordat Strategy Group and a member of the All-Party Parliamentary University Group Council. 

Under Prof Buckingham's leadership, the Steering Group will consult with the sector and organisations that support and contribute to its work. It will also develop recommendations on the positioning of Athena SWAN and guidelines for the application and assessment of awards.

The review, which will be completed by early 2019, will consider:

  • the requirements for each level of accreditation and review of the standard application process
  • the administrative burden on institutions and members of the Athena SWAN panels
  • clarity and consistency as to how applications are assessed against criteria.

Prof Buckingham added: “I look forward to working with the steering group to ensure the Athena SWAN awards continue to be recognised as a hallmark of gender equality while reducing the burden of the awards application process.”

Brunel University London holds an Athena SWAN Bronze Award, which it first achieved in 2012. Four of its Departments have received the same recognition: Life Sciences, Mathematics, Computer Science and, most recently, Clinical Sciences.

Reported by:

Joe Buchanunn, Media Relations
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