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Athena swan working
Members of the Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health. Copyright: Fisher Studios

Athena swan

The Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health is the proud holder of an Athena SWAN Silver Award in recognition of its efforts to introduce organisational and cultural practices that promote gender equality and create a better working environment for both men and women.

WHAT IS ATHENA SWAN? 

The Athena SWAN Charter is a scheme to recognise excellence in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM). The Charter’s core principles are centred on the belief that women are underrepresented in STEMM, especially at higher levels, yet scientific research cannot achieve its full potential without the involvement of the whole science community. Athena SWAN aims to address the issues leading to a disproportionate loss of female scientists from STEMM, whilst encouraging and supporting the career progression of women in scientific institutions, by the encouragement of good working practices and seeking to remove some of the obstacles that discourage women from continuing careers in science.

WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT?

The Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health is seeking to address the issue of unequal representation of women within science by critically examining attitudes and working practices within the Department, and seeking to change them where they present a barrier to the career progression of female staff. The consequences of implementing Athena SWAN policies and values will have positive benefits for all staff, irrespective of gender. Our commitment to the Athena SWAN ideals was recognised by a Athena SWAN Bronze Award in September 2013, followed by a prestigious Athena SWAN Silver Award in October 2015, which was renewed in 2018.

We have launched initiatives such as new leadership groups:  The People Resources Working Group (PRWG), the Education Working Group (EWG) and the Research Working Group (RWG). They will report into a central Executive Team. ​The PRWG exists to deliver policies and procedures related to Human Resource Management. ​ The EWG exists to discuss and disseminate good practice in teaching, assessment practices and research degree supervision relating to medical student and postgraduate education.​ The RWG exists to help develop, facilitate and implement the department's research strategy.​  

We have spearheaded a range of innovations, including: a) a new suggestion for improvements scheme (Brainwaves) and engagement platform (Peakon); b) refurbishment of departmental space (Project Rejuvenation), and c) most importantly, a commitment to tackle some of the challenges facing the HE sector, namely short-term contracts and limited career development opportunities for postdocs.  The changes already introduced have generated greater satisfaction, as evidenced by our staff surveys, and influenced everyone’s approach to the important issues that affect both women and men, particularly gender equality, work-life balance and the working environment. As a result, the department is an exciting place to work with a clear, ambitious mission to improve the health of women and girls globally.