The third annual Athena SWAN lecture on 15 May was presented by Professor Lesley Yellowlees, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and Vice Principal and Head of Science & Engineering at the University of Edinburgh.

In his introduction, Mark Humphriss, Chair of the university's Athena SWAN self assessment team, affirmed the university's commitment to Athena SWAN, which aims to advance the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM).

He gave a brief account of developments over the last year, such as:

  • an increase in the number of women professors
  • improved gender representation on university and departmental committees
  • support to ten academic staff to attend the Aurora women-only leadership programme
  • and the recently completed culture survey, the result of which will be used by senior management for future planning.

Professor Yellowlees gave an inspirational, uplifting presentation which included lessons learned during her successful career. She gave an account of her experience managing her career, family life and research. Main themes to her success were hard work and support at home and work. Good advice from her Head of Department assisted her to focus on managing her career at a key transition point effectively.

She reminded us that a fundamental result of membership of Athena SWAN is a culture change in the University. ‘Women benefit disproportionately better’ from any initiatives such as support/mentoring. She endorsed the Athena SWAN ethos and congratulated the University of Bath on renewal of its Bronze award.

The annual lecture was attended many academic and professional services staff and UG and PG students from across all Faculties and departments.

Visit to the Department of Chemistry

Following her presentation, Professor Yellowlees spent the remainder of the afternoon in the Department of Chemistry meeting staff and students. She was shown around the department and discussed academic and other work being undertaken in general and in relation to Athena SWAN.

Athena SWAN bronze renewal award

The University has just succeeded in securing the renewal of our Athena SWAN Bronze award. This is a significant achievement given that only 71% of applications were successful.

The University’s self-assessment team worked hard to produce a proactive action plan that will help attract, retain and develop all academic staff but particularly result in more women reaching their full potential. The team has a representative from each STEMM department in the University.

Mark Humphriss said: ‘We are delighted with this independent evaluation, which celebrates the good employment practices we have put in place and our future commitments to further the careers of colleagues in these areas.”