Athena Swan


*Breaking news!* The school of Biology has been awarded a Bronze Athena Swan award, recognising our progress in and plans for gender equality.

An Athena Swan award recognises a department’s commitment to making the department and the university workplace overall a more equal place for all staff.

The School of Biology Equality and Diversity Committe encourages everyone to participate in improving transparency and fairness at all stages of a scientific career. If you have suggestions for our School Action plan, please contact anyone on the committee. The committee meets monthly, and is keen to hear from all school members. The committee is currently working on a bronze application.

The Bronze University award recognises that the University overall has a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff. This includes:

  • an assessment of where the university is in quantitative (staff and student data) and qualitative (policies, practices, systems and arrangements) terms, which has identified both challenges and opportunities;
  • a plan that builds on the assessment, the activities that are already in place and what has been learnt from these; and
  • an organisation (the self-assessment team) to carry proposed actions forward

The committee has implemented many changes since its inception, these include encouraging Core Hours of between 10am and 3pm daily. It is recommended that regularly scheduled meetings and seminars are held within these core hours, to facilitate flexible working/ care arrangements. The committee is investigating promotion and training opportunities, improving induction, investigating female representation on committees, developing a workload model, improving networking in the school, improving leave and phased return from parental and illness leave, among many other aspects of life in the school of biology.

Dr Keelin Murray and Dr Nicki Cook, the postdoctoral representatives on the committee, ran a number of meetings with postdoctoral staff over the summer, in order to identify changes that can be made. The committee has taken the suggestions and comments on board, and worked them into an action plan for the coming months and years – one end result of these meetings was this site. In particular the meetings aimed to identify reasons for the fall-off in female representation past postdoctoral levels in the school.

The committee has also run a survey to evaluate people’s perception of the workplace, and a further one will follow in the Autumn/Winter semester.

The Women in Science site highlights women working in science in St Andrews. Here you can keep up to date with news from women in the university, see profiles of the women working in biology and chemistry, and those in senior or strategic roles. It also has links to job ads.

See Cambridge professor Tim Bussey and ScienceGrrl celebrate women in science with the release of She Blinded Me With Science

You can find out more about women in science, and in particular mothers in science, here.