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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Athena SWAN Bronze success for gender equality in Ocean and Earth Science

Published: 24 June 2013
Athena SWAN

The aspirations of Ocean and Earth Science to improve fairness and equality for women have been rewarded with a Bronze award through the Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) Charter administered by the Equality Challenge Unit. In November 2012, the Ocean and Earth Science self-assessment team submitted an application to demonstrate their dedication to eliminating gender bias and creating an inclusive culture. The team had representation from all levels of staff including Dr Martin Solan, Reader in Marine Ecology, Professor Jon Bull, Associate Dean of Research and Professor Rachel Mills, Oceanographer and Associate Dean for the Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences.

There were four faculties from the University of Southampton represented
Athena SWAN awards night

A key part of each submission is an action plan setting out steps that the Self-Assessment Teams will be taking over the next three years, to ensure that gender equality truly becomes part of our culture. The Charter’s prime focus is on women's careers in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine) disciplines. A dedicated university Diversity team helped to support the Ocean and Earth Science individual departmental bid with statistics and wider knowledge and insight gained from previous applications.

Dr Martin Solan receiving Bronze award
Dr Martin Solan

Dr Martin Solan said: "I am delighted that the many efforts we are making in support of gender equality are being formally recognised. We are already putting in place an action plan that will build on this achievement, and I look forward to continuing the journey that we have started.”

A key part of each submission is an action plan setting out steps that the individual Self-Assessment Teams will be taking over the next three years, to ensure that best practice truly becomes part of our culture. Many research councils and other organisations have stipulated that they will be taking into consideration how well equality and diversity is embedded into universities.

Professor Rachel Mills said: “We are beginning to move many of the barriers for women in academia by beginning to understand that when you see a group of people, not everyone is the same. Some may have had a career break to start a family, worked at a different pace, worked in a different way, or maybe have come and gone from an academic standard track and we are getting better at judging that. Athena SWAN recognises this, but it is the process of applying for these awards that has made us reflect and generated an understanding of where we were and where we want to be in the future. The Bronze Award is given very much for aspiration and the Silver Award is given for delivery. It’s fair to say that we’re now moving from the aspiration stage, towards delivery.”

University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam added: “Over the last three years, a whole range of activities, initiatives, groups and committees have helped to define a solid bedrock in support of staff equality. Pivotal to this has been valuing and nurturing existing academic expertise, alongside a commitment to recruiting the best of global talent. This has highlighted some key areas where we want to improve, particularly in identifying, developing and promoting our talented women in addition to ensuring our reputation as a supportive environment for study, research and work.”

For further information please contact Dr Martin Solan

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