United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science

The 2021 International Day of Women and Girls in Science lecture, entitled ‘The Extraordinary World of Birds and Their Eggs’ was delivered by Professor Cassie Stoddard on Friday 12 February 2021.  Thwarted by the pandemic, and already postponed from 2020, we were glad to hold this event online. This inspiring talk covered Prof Stoddard’s ground-breaking research into animal colouration and patterning, hummingbird colour vision and the evolution of eggs. The lecture is available to watch below.


The 2019 International Day of Women and Girls in Science lecture, entitled ‘Narwhal Nights: Discoveries Along The Scientific Road Less Travelled’ was delivered by Professor Terrie Williams on Tuesday 5 February 2019 in the Byre Theatre. Her inspiring talk discussed the survival strategies employed by both land and sea mammals. More information can be found in the News section, and the lecture is available to watch below.


The 2018 United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science public lecture was presented by Professor Eleanor Riley on 23 February in the Byre Theatre. Her talk, entitled “Combatting Malaria” discussed how fundamental studies of malaria immunity have the potential to inform the development of new tools to prevent malaria through vaccines, to treat malaria with new therapies, and to reduce the spread of malaria by monitoring malaria control programs and identifying hotspots of ongoing transmission. More information can be found in the News section, and the lecture is available to watch below.


Our inaugural public lecture celebrating the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science, entitled “Ageing Healthily”, was presented by Professor Dame Linda Partridge, on Friday 10 November 2017 in the Byre Theatre. Researchers, students and members of the public alike were welcomed to this fascinating talk on the biology of ageing. Before the lecture, Professor Partridge met with early career researchers to discuss life in science, and a reception after the lecture provided an informal question and answer time. For more information, please see Equality, Diversity and Inclusion News, or watch the lecture below.


Marking the 2017 UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, several of our staff took part in a University-wide initiative to highlight case-studies of some of its leading female academics.

Careers bookmark

As part of the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science lecture in 2019, we developed a bookmark to give to participants with a website link to showcase Biology over a range of career stages.

The UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science lecture for 2020, to be given by Dr Mary Cassie Stoddard of Princeton University, was at the late stage of planning, but unfortunately it had to be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. We hope to be able to invite Cassie back to St Andrews in the near future.

Careers event for PhD students and postdocs

We have initiated a careers session held as part of the annual postgraduate conference. We showcase some of the many different career paths available, with talks on getting an independent fellowship, moving into your first lectureship, the joys of teaching, moving away from traditional academia into science policy, science consulting or short-term excursions from science. The inaugural event, held on 17 January 2017, received good feedback with most attendees finding the talks interesting and useful.  Similarly successful events were held on 23 January 2018 and 19 March 2019. The 2020 session has been postponed due to the Covid19 lockdown.

Bring your kids to work day – schools in-service day, May

A school day-off for kids in the middle of the week can be problematic for parents. We have held very successful events for kids of staff on the school in-service days in May 2016, where they visited the museum and learnt how to lecture, and May 2017, where they conducted a mini Bioblitz.

Postgraduate induction, October

We provide a brief introduction to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion issues at the induction day for new postgraduate students. This introduces students to the Athena Swan Charter and our school’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives.

Undergraduate tutorials on bias and inclusion

We have included Equality, Diversity and Inclusion material into the tutorials we provide for 2nd and 3rd year students.

In spring 2017, we focused on the issue of bias – both that of the students themselves and the bias they may face during their career. We encouraged students to undertake one of the Harvard Implicit Social Attitudes tests. We then discussed gender bias in job advertisements, and the issues of language used. Lastly we discussed gender differences in assessment of application criteria.

In spring 2018, we focused on the issue of disabilities – and how consideration of disabilities was required for planning of events. The students were asked to design a public engagement event, and the importance of taking into account the various disabilities of attendees, that may or may not be physically evident, for the event was discussed.

In spring 2019, we focused on sample selection and bias. This included consideration of sample diversity (which included gender, ethnicity, and age) in biological research including clinical trials and stem cell research, as well as gendered innovations.

Online bias training and recruitment training

We are currently encouraging all of our staff to undertake the bias training offered by the University:

We also ask all staff involved in recruitment to undertake the recruitment training offered by the University:

An excellent video recommended by ERC panels which highlights good recruitment practice is available here. 

Annual review meetings for all staff

All staff are encouraged to undertake annual review meetings.  Policy and procedures vary slightly for academic staff who undertake the Academic Review and Development (ARD) and for support staff who undertake the Review and Development Scheme (RDS).

Promotions workshop

We initiated and organised a promotions workshop at which representatives from HR and Biology gave an overview of the promotions procedures, including recent changes. All staff, including research-only staff, were invited to attend whether they were planning to apply for promotion imminently or not.  The workshop was held on Tuesday 4th December 2018 in the BMS lecture theatre, and was led by Prof. Malcolm White and the Head of HR Mhairi Stewart. The event was well received, and will be repeated annually.

A similar event, this time open to all schools based on the North Haugh, was organised by the BEDI committee in January 2020, and was well received by all attendees. To ensure the information was accessible to all staff, the session was recorded and can be viewed here.

Guidelines for organising a diverse conference/workshop

As one of the actions for our silver Athena Swan Award, we have compiled a list of suggestions for organising a diverse and gender-balanced conference or workshop. We have also provided a summary of the guidelines in a downloadable one page “In a Nutshell” file.

Staff Wellbeing: Resources & Support Event

In January 2021, the BEDI committee organised a Staff Wellbeing event online to provide information about the resources and support available here at the University of St Andrews.

Further information about what was covered can be found here, and the video recording of the event can be accessed here.  Powerpoint slides from the event can be viewed using the following links – staff wellbeing signposting, staff support flowchart and Occupational Health services, as well as a compendium of useful links.