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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences


Athena Swan Bronze logo

Welcome to the Athena SWAN page for the School of Social Sciences. The University itself holds a Silver Award and Social Sciences currently hold a Bronze Award.

Click on the tabs below for more information about ESPS Athena SWAN intiative:

Athena SWAN at the University of Southampton


Our chair is Bindi Shah. The deputy chair is Jana Sadeh. Please feel free to contact either Bindi or Jana if you have any queries.

AS Committee

Chair of SESPS Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team - Bindi Shah

Deputy Chair - Jana Sadeh

Staff Consultation Working Group Lead – Maria Evandrou

Undergraduate Consultation Working Group Lead – Panos Giannarakis

PGT/PGR Consultation Working Group Lead – Anita Lavorgna

Communications Working Group Lead – Helen Paul


Committee image

Feedback to the committee

Let us know your thoughts and feedback on the School’s gender equality initiative.

The form allows any staff or student to send their comments confidentially and anonymously to the SESPS Athena SWAN Chair and Co-Chair. All fields are optional so you can disclose as much or as little information as you like.

You can submit the feedback via our form.

The national Athena SWAN charter addresses the improvement of gender equity policies and practices that affect women and men in academic careers across STEMM, Social Sciences and Humanities.

The School’s Bronze award recognises our commitment to tackling gender inequality. A positive culture that values gender equality, including support for flexible working, for maternity, paternity and adoption leave transitions, and core hours email etiquette policy are among the practices that helped us achieve this status. Our bronze award demonstrates how good practice is being implemented for staff in all job families and levels.

The Action Plan represents a comprehensive effort to further develop and implement good practice that promotes gender equity and gender balance. Key features of the School’s plan include:

  • Ensure that gender equality and inclusivity is at heart of every School committee
  • Implement communication and training mechanisms for staff and students to engage with School’s Athena SWAN goals
  • Promote gender balance on all Undergraduate, Postgraduate taught, and Postgraduate research programmes
  • Implement strategies to improve gender balance with regard to recruitment, promotion and retention of staff in all job families and levels.
  • Continue support for flexible working, and for maternity, paternity and adoption leave transitions.

Our main policies and guidance documents can be accessed by visiting our Policies and Guidance page.

These documents are also complemented by other policies in the University. These policies are owned by other areas of the University (e.g. Human Resources and the Registry).

You can find the following policies on our website;

You can find out more about Athena SWAN related news and events here.

Recent news

The joys and frustrations of returning back to work at University following maternity leave – Jana Sadeh

April 2020 marked the time I returned back to work from a 6 month absence due to maternity leave. This is a time when parents feel particularly vulnerable in their careers. You worry about catching up with all you have missed, whether your brain, now severely impaired by months of sleep deprivation, still even works. You struggle to re-establish work friendships, you try to remember what you left behind when you left. You worry about how your new baby is going to cope without you. You struggle with the newly found parent-guilt that every working parent is all too familiar with.

It is an important period of change for any staff member. I should know, I have returned to work from a long period of absence 3 times. Twice for joyful reasons, once for illness. Each time the struggle is real, my memory was really compromised by my first pregnancy. I remember sitting in front of my PhD supervisor, who I'd known for years, and I couldn't remember his name. I remember spending numerous frustrating hours trailing through Stata code trying to remember what I was doing before I left for maternity leave and coming up blank. I remember feeling like getting my brain to work again was like clawing my way out of a deep hole. I can still feel that physical pain of re-establishing my neural networks, but each time I have learned valuable lessons that I want to share with people who are about to set off on such an absence or who are returning and relating to the struggle.

Be proactive in managing your return. You are the one who needs to write that email or pick up the phone and get in touch with people at work. It helps if you have dropped in the occasional email during your absence to check in with colleagues and your line manager. When the time comes to return get in touch with your line manager and discuss their expectations of you upon your return so that you can prepare yourself for the workload. You may need some support to get through this return, so discuss any special working conditions, such as homeworking, which may be necessary in the transition of the return
Make your line manager your ally. The typical profile of a line manager is someone who is shouldering a lot of responsibility and is very busy. They may not have the experience or time to carefully cater to your return to work, even though they want to ensure it is a smooth experience. Keep this in mind when you are planning your return. Prepare for your conversations, know what you want to ask for and think about how you can contribute to the needs of the department in a way that fits with what you feel you are able to provide.

Re-establish your social life at work as soon as possible. Let your colleagues know about your return. Plan for shared lunch breaks and coffee breaks to catch up and be caught up with all you have missed. It can feel a bit daunting sometimes to find your place within your work environment after a period of absence. Your colleagues can be a support mechanism to overcome the worries you may have.
Don't be afraid to be upfront with what you need, and if you are feeling like your return is a real struggle speak up as soon as you can. You don't want the experience to be so painful that you end up having to consider a different career path or even leaving work completely. You can access numerous resources to help you at this time (see below).

There are great joys of returning to work. I, for one, found work a haven of peace where I could actually finish a cup of tea compared to the chaos of home life with a newborn. I rekindled my more mentally challenging endeavours and rebuilt my confidence over time.
Finally, accept that it will take some time for things to feel 'normal'. To be honest, the life experiences you get while away on maternity or prolonged sick leave change you as a person, and it would be naïve to think they wouldn't change how you approach your work. You may find you will settle to a new normal that is different to what things were like before. Different people deal with their new reality in different ways. If you spend some time thinking about what you want out of work and planning your return it may make a big difference to your transition and to the new equilibrium you settle into.

Additional resources

The HR intranet pages have all the policies and guideline relating to maternity leave, including easy to view frequently asked questions. The AskHR team will be happy to answer your queries to help explain these further.
We are also well supported by the Parents' and Carers' Network (P&CN) whose aim is to support the working lives of colleagues who also have off-campus responsibilities, looking after children or adults unable to care for themselves due to old age or disability.
All staff at the University also have access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which is designed to help you to cope with life's difficulties and challenges. It is provided by Legal & General and Health Assured it is separate from University services. It is completely confidential, and no details will be routinely shared without your consent.

Upcoming Events

Athena SWAN and inclusive teaching practice

The PAIR Teaching Assistant Forum is hosting an event entitled  'Athena SWAN and inclusive teaching practice', aimed at TAs involved in modules within the School of Economic, Social and Political Science.

The event will feature a talk by Dr Bindi Shah of SSPC, who is the Chair of the School of Economic, Social and Political Science Athena SWAN Committee, and a discussion of how principles of equality, diversity and inclusion can be built into classroom practice.

The event will take place in 58/1041 from 14.00-15.00 on Wednesday April 22, 2020. I look forward to seeing you there!

You do not need to register for the event, but please turn up on time to allow for limited capacity in the booked room. Contact me (Dr Eloise Harding)  on if you have any queries.

Recent events

Dragonfly Day

Dragonfly Day

On Wednesday 19 June 21 female students in Year 9 (ages 13-14) from Chamberlayne College for the Arts, Admiral Lord Nelson, Priory School, Henry Cort and Mayville High School visited the Economics Department for a day of immersion into everything economics. During the course of the day they had various talks, from our own Helen Paul and Corrado Giulietti as well as from Helen Packard from the Bank of England. In addition, they got to experience two hands-on sessions in the Bloomberg Suite and the Experimental Lab led by Daniel Cernin and Jana Sadeh. This initiative, which was funded by the Royal Economic Society, was aimed at encouraging more young women to look at economics as an exciting and fulfilling career choice. The day was organised by Helen Paul with the support of Emma Woozeer, Outreach coordinator from the Access to Southampton Scheme.

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