University of Leicester receives recognition for tackling gender inequality

Posted by ap507 at Apr 28, 2016 12:01 AM |
Athena SWAN silver awards for Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 28 April

Equality Challenge Unit has announced that two University of Leicester departments are among the most recent institutions and departments to receive an Athena SWAN award, the charter that recognises commitment to tackling gender inequality in higher education.

The University of Leicester’s Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation have both achieved an Athena SWAN silver award. This level of award reflects the implementation of change and the demonstration of impact in addressing gender inequality and both departments have worked hard to achieve this prestigious accolade.

Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said:

“Receiving an Athena SWAN silver award is a mark of great commitment to gender equality and for two of our departments to attain this level demonstrates the great strides that the University of Leicester has made in tackling this issue. As a United Nations HeForShe 10x10x10 impact champion we have been vested with the challenge of making transformational advances in gender equality and being a beacon for the rest of the world. I am delighted that the efforts of our colleagues to create a more positive environment and make this aim a reality have been recognised."

Professor Philip Baker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology and Dean of Medicine, said:

“I am delighted that we have been awarded  Silver Athena SWAN awards in the Departments of Cardiovascular Sciences and Infection, Immunity and Inflammation. I would like to congratulate the self-assessment teams in both departments, these awards reflect their outstanding hard work and commitment. We remain committed to challenging gender stereotypes across all aspects of our work and continue to develop an environment that has gender equality at its core.  We look forward to embedding the ambitious activities outlined in our Athena SWAN action plans in the coming months.”

The University of Leicester signed up to the Athena SWAN Charter in 2006 and achieved its Institutional Athena SWAN Bronze Award in 2008 with renewals in 2011 and 2014. The Department of Health Sciences achieved the University’s first departmental silver award in 2013 and eight other Departments or Schools currently hold bronze awards (Cancer Studies, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Medical School, Molecular & Cell Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology & Behaviour and Physics & Astronomy).

Leicester also holds one of the first non-STEM ECU Gender Equality Charter Marks with the School of Museum Studies achieving a bronze award in 2014.

Newcastle University and the University of Sheffield joined the elite group of universities holding Silver institution awards, bringing the total number with this award to nine. Additionally, the Institute of Cancer Research was awarded a Silver research institute award, bringing the total number to three. In total, 84 awards have been conferred; seven at institution level, one to a research institute and 76 to departments.

Ruth Gilligan, ECU’s Athena SWAN manager said:

“It is encouraging to see universities engaging with the Athena SWAN Charter across disciplines. We’ve seen the impact of the Charter for academic women in science and for their departments over the past ten years. We are delighted to welcome the five successful AHSSBL departments as they lead the way for equality and career progression for colleagues in non-STEMM subjects.

“The scope of the Charter was expanded in May 2015 to include professional and support staff, and again it is with great pleasure that we confer the first awards to those who applied using the expanded criteria. Our Athena SWAN Charter is a catalyst for real change within individual departments and whole institutions. It is important that we recognise the work already undertaken to support gender equality for staff in professional and support roles, and can inspire more to be done in the future.”

For the first time, Athena SWAN awards have been extended to arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law departments (AHSSBL), alongside the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) disciplines that it traditionally covered.

In total, 128 Athena SWAN Charter applications were submitted in this awards round. The 84 successful awards represents an overall success rate of 66%, down from 70% for the previous round (April 2015). This slight decrease can be attributed to the lower success rate of applications using the new process. ECU is providing ongoing support to applicants through materials and workshop on how to participate in the expanded charter.

The University of Leicester has been chosen by the United Nations as an IMPACT champion to identify and test gender equality initiatives for the UN Women’s HeForShe 10x10x10 international campaign to get a billion boys and men involved in championing the rights of women.

Ten university leaders worldwide – including Professor Paul Boyle, President & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester - will join 10 world leaders and 10 company chief executives to spearhead the campaign with game-changing action for gender equality.


Contact details:

Professor Paul M Cullis

Chair of the University Gender Equality Working Group

Department of Chemistry, University of Leicester


Anna Roberts
Communications and Marketing Manager, Equality Challenge Unit


Notes to editors

  • A full list of award winners will be available online on 28 April 2016:, or contact for an embargoed copy.
  • The Athena SWAN Charter is one of two equality charters owned and managed by Equality Challenge Unit. ECU’s Race Equality Charter was launched in January 2016 to improve the representation, progression and success of black and minority ethnic staff and students within higher education.
  • Equality Challenge Unit supports higher education institutions across the UK and colleges in Scotland to advance equality and diversity for staff and students.
  • ECU provides research information and guidance, training, events and Equality Charters that drive forward change and transform organisational culture in teaching, learning, research and knowledge exchange. We have over ten years’ experience of supporting institutions to remove barriers to progression and success for all staff and students.
  • ECU is funded by the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and Universities UK, and through direct subscription from higher education institutions in England and Northern Ireland. For more information visit or follow us on Twitter @EqualityInHE

Share this page: