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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

FoHS Athena SWAN update

Following our award of an Athena SWAN Bronze Charter in 2013 the Faculty of Health Sciences, supported by a committed Athena SWAN team, has embraced the SWAN Charter ensuring full integration into all aspects of Faculty culture and working. 

The Athena SWAN team is now a recognised committee within the structure of the FoHS with responsibility, in addition to university-wide policies, for support and promotion of gender equality and to address challenges particular to FoHS. The team meets every two months with key sub groups meeting more regularly as required. We provide regular quarterly reports to the Faculty's senior executive committee and annual reports to the University Athena SWAN committee.

Our Athena SWAN team 2014:

Successful implementation of the Bronze award action plan is crucial to our application for a Silver Charter Award this November.  For our Bronze award eight key objectives formed the focus of our action plan, and for each one a member role from our FoHS senior executive is allocated as the Champion i.e. the person who can facilitate how the objectives may be met.

Bronze award action plan objectives

1. Sustain and champion Athena Swan principles and values

Executive Champion: Associate Dean SDB&E

2. Improve collection and monitoring of baseline data and supporting evidence: UG, PGT & PGR students

Executive Champion: Associate Dean Education & Student Experience

3. Improve collection and monitoring of baseline data and supporting evidence: FoHS staff

Executive Champion: HR manager & heads of academic units

4. Increase the number of applications for promotion

Executive Champion: Associate Dean SDB&E

5. Formalise and develop the FoHS mentoring system

Executive Champion: Associate Dean SDB&E

6. Ensure systems of workload management are fair and equitable

Executive Champion: Heads of Academic Units and Dean

7. Embed the Athena SWAN agenda into FoHS organisational culture

Executive Champion: Associate Dean SDB&E

8. Improve the career stability of fixed-term and part-time contract staff

Executive Champion: Associate Dean Research

So far most of the action plan objectives are progressing and processes are being instigated towards achieving them. In particular there has been a focus on objectives four and five on improving transparency towards promotion with more individuals applying for, and gaining, promotion this year than in previous years. 

Due to the change in University-wide processes planned for this year, a series of information-giving presentations are planned over the next few months from our senior executive team to facilitate understanding of these for all FoHS staff. Alongside these there will be a series of seminars that will focus on implementation of a strategy for mentorship towards promotion.

In addition Health Sciences has agreed to invest in a joint ‘Springboard programme' with the Faculty of Medicine due to a high demand of applications with places for only three individuals being supported to attend. This will be an exciting collaboration between our two faculties for 30 women in anticipation that it will continue after the end of the programme.

Springboard is a programme that offers women the opportunity to undertake a substantial review of their work and personal lives, and to take more control. It is a development programme written by women for women; it aims to support women in assessing where they are now, in identifying the clear, practical and realistic steps that they want to take next, and in developing the skills and confidence to underpin them.  We anticipate that this unique programme will take place through June and July so please watch out for the call for applications fairly soon from the Athena SWAN team.

Finally, in liaison with our Concordat Champions, Prof Dan Bader and Dr Cheryl Metcalf, objective eight related to stability of careers, especially for our early career researchers (ECRs) is currently under the spotlight. Jessica Comper has begun to set up a database of all our ECRs and has instigated regular Faculty forum meetings for ECRs. Linked with this will be sessions led by Liz Pike (HR) to update all principal investigators and those with line management responsibility for our ECRs on related employment policies and procedures.

Over the next few months, please watch out for Athena SWAN related activities, such as seminars, surveys and focus groups, and have your say. If you are not able to join us, our website is due to go live at the end of April and there will be opportunity to contact us via that site as well as our email:  and twitter account: @HSathenaswan

Dr Cathy Bowen 

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