Middlesex University has launched its Athena SWAN membership scheme to promote gender equality and encourage the progression of women in academic and professional service roles.
The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to advance the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine in the higher education sector in both research and teaching.
The scheme has now been extended to include staff in professional service and support roles.
“For us, it is not just a tick box exercise, rather an opportunity for dialogue and a platform to think about how best to address the structures and cultures that perpetuate gender inequality." Anna Kyprianou, the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Professional & Social Sciences.
MDX will work towards the Athena SWAN Bronze Award which recognises the University has “a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff”.
MDX is currently undertaking a “robust” assessment of gender equality using staff data and deep dives into its policies, practices and systems such as recruitment, parental leave, flexible working, career progression and senior level management – identifying challenges and opportunities.
The University will develop an action plan based on the assessment and an organisation structure, to deliver proposed changes.
The Self Assessment Team made up of MDX academic, professional services staff and MDXSU members is meeting regularly to review the progress of the application.
Anna Kyprianou, the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Professional & Social Sciences, who chairs the Self Assessment Team, outlined the MDX approach as follows: “Athena SWAN is often seen as merely a data exercise, but for us, it is about using the data to better understand the structures, processes and culture that underpin gender inequality.
“For us, it is not just a tick box exercise, rather an opportunity for dialogue and a platform to think about how best to address the structures and cultures that perpetuate gender inequality.
“Obtaining Athena SWAN accreditation is about more than obtaining the charter mark, it is about exposing areas that we still need to improve, and planning together how best to ensure we work towards that goal.
“We aim to utilise the process of working toward an Athena SWAN Bronze Award to advance gender equality in all areas and aspects of University life."