University of Leicester bioscience departments receive recognition for tackling gender inequality

Posted by ap507 at Oct 06, 2016 11:25 AM |
Athena SWAN silver award for Department of Cancer Studies and bronze award for Department of Genetics

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 6 October 2016

Equality Challenge Unit has announced that two University of Leicester biosciences 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 Cancer Studies has 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 the Department has worked hard to achieve this prestigious accolade.

In the same round the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics has been awarded a bronze award in recognition of their work in identifying particular challenges that the Department and discipline face. 

Both departments have set themselves ambitious action plans to advance gender equality in these two disciplines.

Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “Receiving two more Athena SWAN awards is a mark of great commitment to gender equality and demonstrates the great strides that the University of Leicester has made in tackling issues of recruiting and retaining women in HE. I am delighted that the efforts of our colleagues to create a more positive environment 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 a Silver Athena SWAN award in the Department of Cancer Studies and a Bronze Athena SWAN award for the Department of Genetics. 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 this was followed by two silver awards in April 2016 for the Department of Cardiovascular Science and the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation. Seven other Departments or Schools currently hold bronze awards (Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Molecular & Cell Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology & Behaviour and Physics & Astronomy), bringing our total of departmental awards to twelve.

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.

In total, 158 Athena SWAN Charter applications were submitted in this awards round. The 100 successful awards represents an overall success rate of 65%, and are broken down into 72 Bronze awards, 24 Silver and 2 Golds.

  • In September 2014, UN Women launched HeForShe, a global solidarity movement for gender equality, with the aim of engaging and encouraging men and boys to take action against the gender inequality which women across the world face.  This worldwide movement seeks to progress the advancement of gender equality specifically through increased engagement of men and young people as advocates and agents of change. In September 2015, the University officially launched its HeForShe partnership with the United Nations as one of ten universities worldwide to be HeForShe IMPACT Champions. The HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 is an initiative that convenes ten Heads of State, ten global CEOs and ten University Presidents to fast-track gender equality in boardrooms, classrooms and world capitals.
  • More on HeForShe:
  • Equality Challenge Uni press release:

Notes to editors:

A full list of award winners will be available online on 06 October 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

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