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Athena Swan Silver Award Success

We are delighted to announce that the School of Life Sciences (SLS) has successfully renewed its Athena Swan Silver Award.
The award recognises the progress made by the School towards the goal of addressing gender inequalities and embedding an inclusive culture.

The Head of School for Life Sciences, Professor Miriam Gifford said:

“I am delighted to see our continuing work and ambitious plans for the next five years rewarded with this recognition. Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee tackles complex problems with care and action, and we perform as a community in SLS with common goals and wide buy-in. I am proud of what we have achieved together so far and excited to help support our next developments.

We are grateful to all those who contributed to discussions, analysis and review of the application. Special thanks go to our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (EDIC) co-leads Professor Johannes Boltze and Dr Beatriz Lagunas who are both very committed to advancing equality and diversity within the School. Professor Johannes Boltze was Very Highly Commended in the Excellence in EDI Award 2021 and Dr Beatriz Lagunas was Highly Commended in the Excellence in Gender Equality awards 2023.


Dr Beatriz Lagunas and Professor Johannes Boltze, Co-Chairs of the Life Sciences EDI committee said:

“We were privileged to work with a great group of dedicated staff and students working on the EDIC. Without their contribution, this success would not have been possible. We have worked on almost 100 actions over the last 5-year self-assessment period, with 99% of them being completed. Most importantly, we have drafted an action plan for the next 5 years which we hope will make a sector leading impact in gender equity and will do pioneering work on race equity as well. There will also be a focus on disabilities and improving community culture for staff and students. Given the great EDIC team and the outstanding senior management support, we are more than optimistic to achieve all aims of the upcoming 5-year self-assessment period, ultimately achieving Gold Status.


What are the next steps?

We are now engaged in implementing our five-year Athena Swan Action Plan. As part of our award, we identified 4 key areas to focus on:

  • Ensuring integration and continuity of EDI principles into the School of Life Sciences community.
  • Reorganising the committee structure to improve communication within and outside the department.
  • Achieving gender equity in representation and wellbeing for all members of our community.
  • Improving inclusion as well as sense of belonging and mattering among SLS students.

The SLS EDI Committee meets monthly and has representation from academics, professional support services, undergraduate and postgraduate students. We are committed to advancing the careers and opportunities for all our staff and students. Our aim is to attain an open, inclusive and supportive environment where everyone can achieve their goals.
SLS EDI initiatives and activities.


What is Athena Swan?

Advance HE’s Athena Swan Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths, and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.

In 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.