The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Gender equality award for Faculty of Life Sciences

Faculty acknowledged by Equality Challenge Unit for its attempts to confront gender inequality

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The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences has been awarded the prestigious Athena SWAN Silver Award in recognition of its efforts to tackle gender inequality in higher education.

The acknowledgement, which was bestowed on just 87 departments across the entire country, is awarded by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) to institutions that make a noticeable commitment to addressing gender inequality issues on both individual and structural levels.

The Faculty is one of just six departments across the UK to retain their silver awards from three years ago, meaning that it has made obvious progress in promoting gender equality since its last award in 2012.

The award will last for the next three years and will enable the Faculty to display the Athena Silver SWAN badge, endorsing them as a nationwide leader in gender equality.

The news comes shortly after the university was awarded a charter mark by the same company for its work in recognising and tackling racial inequality.

Awards from the ECU are widely regarded as some of the most valuable recognitions that an institution can receive with regards to challenging various social injustices.

Sarah Dickinson, Head of Equality at the ECU, said: “In an ever-changing higher education landscape, we realise that participating in the charter is a significant undertaking, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate all those who participated for their demonstrable commitment to tackling gender inequality.”

Understandably, the award was well-received within the Faculty of Life Sciences.

Amanda Bamford, Associate Dean for Social Responsibility within the Faculty, and Chair of the Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team, said: “I am really thrilled with this award, which recognises the efforts made across the Faculty to ensure a supportive working environment for all of our staff.

“The award reflects an enormous amount of work and commitment to provide the most progressive and supportive environment possible for career development and work-life balance in the Faculty. We strive to develop a culture of fairness, opportunity, flexibility, and respect.

“We want to be a beacon in gender equality so there is no pausing in our efforts especially since we are now working towards our Athena SWAN Gold award!”

These thoughts were echoed by Hema Radhakrishnan, Deputy Associate Dean for Social Responsibility in the Faculty.

“We are delighted to receive the Athena SWAN Silver award that recognises the tremendous effort from the Faculty of Life Sciences towards advancing gender equality amongst staff and students.

“Even though we are a long way forward from the Suffragette movement, women are still more likely to be discouraged from pursuing careers in Science, Engineering and Technology than men. Women who do take interest in these subjects often progress in their careers at a rate that is slower than their male counterparts.

“Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science. This Silver award shows that we as a faculty are working hard to reduce the gender gap and the efforts taken by the faculty are benefiting women and individuals with caring responsibilities.”

The award will be presented at a special ceremony in the coming months.