Advancing women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine: evaluating the effectiveness and impact of the Athena swan charter



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Advancing women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine: evaluating the effectiveness and impact of the Athena SWAN Charter

Dr Fehmidah Munir, Dr Carolynne Mason, Dr Hilary McDermott, Dr John Morris, Professor Barbara Bagilhole and Professor Mary Nevill

School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and School of Social Sciences, Loughborough University



Contents


Contents 2

1 Executive Summary 6

1.1 Introduction 6

1.2 Methods 6

1.3 Key findings – effectiveness of the Charter in advancing women’s careers in STEMM 7

1.4 Key findings – sustainability of the changes that HEIs are making as a result of their participation in Athena SWAN 9

1.5 Key findings – impact of the Athena SWAN Charter in changing the culture and attitudes across the participating HEIs to address inequality and unequal representation 10

1.6 Key findings – suitability of Athena SWAN processes for use in complex and busy institutional environments 10

1.7 Recommendations for ECU 11

1.8 Recommendations for HEIs 12

2 Introduction 14

3 Programme Overview and Research Context 16

3.1 Programme overview 16

3.2 Athena SWAN Charter principles 16

4 Research Overview and Methodology 17

4.1 Research aims and objectives 17

4.2 Research methods 18

4.2.1 Introduction 18

4.2.2 Surveys 18

4.2.3 In-depth case studies 20

5 Research Findings: Surveys 22

5.1 The Athena SWAN academic/research staff survey 22

Summary of key findings – academic/researcher staff survey 22

5.1.1 Career performance/development reviews, training and promotion 22

5.1.2 Departmental/school encouragement to progress 26

5.1.3 Career satisfaction for academic/research staff 28

5.1.4 Workload allocation for academic/research staff 30

5.1.5 Work-life balance policies and practice for academic/research staff 31

5.1.6 The achievement of work-life balance for academic/research staff 33

5.1.7 Work-life balance culture for academic/research staff 34

5.1.8 Gender climate for academic/research staff 35

5.1.9 Intention to leave for academic/research staff 37

5.1.10 Impact of Athena SWAN as perceived by academic/research staff 38

5.1.11 Sense of belonging for academic/research staff 42

5.1.12 Confidence in advancing work recognition for academic/research staff 43

5.1.13 Value of research groups, social events and women-only/men-only networks to female and male academic/research staff 44

5.1.14 Differences in responses between academic staff and research staff 46

5.2 Athena SWAN administrative/technical staff survey 51

Summary of key findings – administrative/technical staff survey 51

5.2.1 Career performance/development reviews, training and encouragement to progress for administrative/technical staff 51

5.2.2 Career satisfaction for administrative/technical staff and confidence 53

5.2.3 Workload management and work-life balance for administrative/technical staff 54

5.2.4 Work-life balance culture and gender attitudes for administrative/technical staff 56

5.2.5 Intention to leave for administrative/technical staff 57

5.2.6 Gender climate 58

5.2.7 Impact of Athena SWAN as perceived by administrative/technical staff 61

5.2.8 Sense of belonging for administrative/technical staff and value of administrative/technical groups and women-only/ men-only networks 62

5.3 Athena SWAN postgraduate student survey 64

Summary of key findings – postgraduate student survey 64

5.4 Athena SWAN undergraduate student survey 70

Summary of key findings – undergraduate student survey 70

5.5 Athena SWAN institutional and departmental Champions surveys 72

Summary of key findings – institutional and departmental Champions surveys 73

5.5.1 Characteristics of the institutional Champions 74

5.5.2 Characteristics of the departmental Champions 74

5.5.3 The workload for the application process 75

5.5.4 Barriers faced in completing the Athena SWAN application process 77

5.5.5 Suggestions for improvements to the Athena SWAN application process 77

5.5.6 Suggestions for improvements to the Athena SWAN assessment process 78

5.5.7 The most important actions since receiving an Athena SWAN institutional award 79

5.5.8 The most important actions since receiving an Athena SWAN departmental award 80

5.5.9 Reasons for applying for an Athena SWAN award 81

5.5.10 Relative standing of the Athena SWAN award process in comparison with other schemes 82

5.5.11 Perceptions of the overall impact of the Athena SWAN Charter Award Scheme 83

5.5.12 Perceptions of the barriers to women’s progression 86

6 Research Findings: Case Studies 87

6.1 Overview 87

6.2 The effectiveness of the Charter in advancing women’s careers in STEMM 88

6.2.1 The impact of the Athena SWAN Charter on institutional practices designed to increase the number, level, career progression and employment experiences of women in STEMM in higher education since its launch in 2005 88

Summary of key findings – institutional practice 88

Appointment, development, promotion and continued progression An example of best practice in supporting the career progression of women 94

6.2.2 The sustainability of the changes that HEIs are making as a result of their participation in Athena SWAN 100

Summary of key findings – sustainability 100

6.3 The permeation, quality and longevity of engagement with the Athena SWAN Charter in participating institutions 105

Summary of key findings – permeation 105

6.4 The impact of the Athena SWAN Charter in changing the culture and attitudes across the participating HEIs to address inequality and unequal representation 107

Summary of key findings – changing culture and attitudes 107

6.5 Evidence of differences in practice and outcomes related to the career opportunities of women in STEMM between HEIs that are members of Athena SWAN and those that are not 109

Summary of key findings – similarities and differences between HEIs involved, and not involved, in Athena SWAN 110

6.6 Progress evidenced by institutions in their Athena SWAN submissions and the experiences of female staff working in STEMM 114

6.6.1 Overview 114

6.6.2 Individualised culture 115

Summary of key findings - Individualised Culture 115

6.6.3 Sexualised culture 118

Summary of key findings – sexualised culture 118

6.6.4 Single-gendered culture 120

Summary of key findings – Single-gendered culture 120

6.7 The suitability of Athena SWAN processes for use in complex and busy institutional environments 121

6.7.1 The experience of HEIs in implementing the Athena SWAN Charter and awards process 121

Summary of findings – experience of HEIs in implementing the Athena SWAN Charter and awards process 121

6.8 Standing and health of the Athena SWAN Charter amongst comparative benchmarking/recognition schemes in the STEMM and equality and diversity fields 125

Summary of findings – standing and health of the Athena SWAN Charter 125

6.9 Persistent barriers to gender equality 126

Summary of findings – barriers to gender equality 126

6.10 Future challenges for HEIs wishing to promote gender equality 128

Summary of findings – future challenges for HEIs 128

6.11 Future challenges for ECU 131

Summary of findings – future challenges for ECU 131

7 Recommendations 135

7.1 Recommendations for ECU 135

7.2 Recommendations for HEIs 136

Appointment, development, promotion and continued progression


An example of best practice in supporting the career progression of women 137

References 138

Appendix A: Technical appendices 140




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