Department of Engineering / News / Athena SWAN scheme - Silver Award

Department of Engineering

Athena SWAN scheme - Silver Award

Athena SWAN scheme - Silver Award

Positive steps taken by the Department of Engineering to promote a culture in which all staff and students feel valued, respected and supported, have been acknowledged by the Athena SWAN scheme.

The Equality Challenge Unit’s Athena SWAN Charter is a national scheme originally established to support and advance women's careers in STEMM subjects – science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine. The scheme was expanded to address gender equality more broadly, rather than just focusing on barriers to progression for women. As part of this scheme, the Engineering Department has been granted the Athena SWAN Silver Award. This award recognises a significant record of activity and achievement by the Department in promoting gender equality.

This achievement is a result of the actions the Department put into place at our last application in 2017 and the hard work of the Athena SWAN committee and the Department as a whole. These actions have resulted in many achievements that have now been officially recognised by the Silver Award, such as:

  • The proportion of female undergraduates is 40% higher than the UK average for Engineering (24% vs 17%).
  • Due to achievements in outreach, over the last 5 years there has been a steady increase in the proportion of female undergraduate applicants.
  • The proportion of women on postgraduate taught degrees is higher than the UK average for Engineering. 
  • Actions have successfully doubled the number of female applicants to the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Propulsion and Power.
  • The proportion of lecturers who are female has increased from 17% to 24% since 2017.
  • The number of female professors has doubled since 2017.
  • Completion rates for Equality and Diversity training are 100% for academics.
  • 100% of academic and academic-related women who took maternity leave returned to work and are still employed at the Department of Engineering.
  • The proportion of staff who are aware of the procedures for reporting bullying and harassment has increased from 41% to more than 70% since 2017.

To better reflect the expansion of the Athena SWAN Charter and help promote inclusivity in the Department more broadly, the Athena SWAN committee will be replaced by a new Diversity Committee, which meets for the first time in November.

The Diversity Committee is lead by Head of Department, Professor Richard Prager, with help from Dr Megan Davies Wykes (the Athena SWAN Lead) and Dr Robert Foster (the Diversity Lead). The Department’s Diversity Committee also includes an academic ‘champion’ from each Division, plus postdoc and student members, and representatives of other staff groups, such as professional and support staff, IT and technicians.

Over the next three years, the Department’s Diversity Committee will carry out an action plan which aims to continue to improve the working environment for all members of the Department, as well as raising the public consciousness of engineering as an exciting and diverse discipline.  

Some of these goals include:

  • Address the gender attainment gap in the undergraduate engineering degree.  
  • Support researchers in the transition to an academic career.  
  • Support academic staff in induction and promotion. 
  • Increase support for staff and student wellbeing, including managing stress and reducing workload.

All staff and student groups will be represented by the Department’s Diversity Committee. Feedback or ideas for further actions are welcomed. Email:

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