This was said by Professor Tom Welton at the Athena SWAN lecture last night as he was describing the journey to the Athena SWAN gold award at the Chemistry Department of Imperial College. He talked about the ability to ‘look in the mirror’ to not only identify where working practices need to improve , but also to identify the things that are done really well.

He talked a lot about the post-graduate, post-doctoral and professorial levels at Imperial and how these originally reflected the male dominated nature of chemistry as a discipline. Ten years ago they had  a ratio of one female professor to nineteen men but have since managed  to acheive seven female professors through a different way of looking at talent pools and recruitment. The ‘leaky pipeline’ analogy is one that is used frequently to describe the reasons why women leave STEMM subjects and/or do not achieve promotion or positions of responsibility in the same way that men do, and by examining the points where the leaks occur, Imperial has also managed to make a difference to  the flow of women leaving  the department after they had achieved their doctorate.

The issues for the SoE will inevitably be  different because the starting points are different to that of Imperial,  but one thing that occured to me whilst he was speaking and which is partly due to my own experience of trying to complete a doctorate whilst working full-time, was that of how many women have achieved post-graduate qualifications in the SoE compared to men in the last few years. What is the ratio of new staff coming in with a Masters level qualification, and are they more or less likely to go on to do a doctorate? How many people do not complete their doctorate, what is the ratio of women to men, and why do we think this is? Is there a correlation between the experience people have whilst doing their Masters and the liklihood of them going on to doctoral level? If there is an imbalance, what can we do about the support given to colleagues studying for post-graduate qualifcations in order to make it the norm that people will be successful rather than not? Such questions will need to added to the survey questions….

By encouraging colleagues in the SoE to study whilst they work, how exactly are we supporting them? Are we pretending that we’re giving post-graduate study equal status to other parts of our workload, or is the reality that other duties ‘trump’ an individual’s time to study and write – a call to a meeting, marking, or covering absence perhaps? How can we support individuals to preserve some semblance of work/life balance whilst undertaking post-graduate study without feeling guilty or defensive of taking legimate study time? I’d welcome your thoughts on this….


Please comment on these new survey questions:

These questions are based on the university’s template although we’ve added some.  What do we need to change, adapt or add?

Workplace culture
1. Irrespective of their gender, where I work staff are treated on their merits.
2. Irrespective of gender, successes and achievements of all staff are celebrated in my school.
3. Decision making in the SoE is transparent.
4. In the SoE, visible role models such as speakers and chairpersons (e.g. in examination boards, conferences, seminars, workshops, staff induction and recruitment events), give the impression of an equiatable gender balance.
5. In the SoE, meetings are timed to enable those with caring responsibilities or flexible working patterns to attend .
6. I think timing important SoE meetings within core hours (e.g. 10am to 4pm) is a good idea whenever possible.
7. Social activities are scheduled at an appropriate time to allow people with caring responsibilities to participate .
8. The SoE makes it clear that inappropriate language and/or behaviour are not acceptable (e.g. condescending or intimidating language, ridicule, stereotyping people, bullying).
9. If I were to be treated unfavourably because of my gender, I would feel comfortable making a complaint and would know how to complain.
10. I would feel comfortable reporting an incident if I witnessed someone being treated unfavourably because of their gender, and would know how to complain.
11. My induction to the university was ‘fit for purpose’ and took account of my needs.
12. In my induction to the university, I was made aware of the university’s core values.
13. In my induction to the university, I was made aware of the university’s commitment to equality and diversity.
14. I came into my current post from a visiting lecturer position and feel that I was inducted in the same way as someone new to the university.
15. If you have been treated unfavourably in your school on the basis of your gender (including when this was compounded by another protected characteristics e.g. age, pregnancy and maternity, race) please comment on the ways in which you think the school can prevent such behaviours happening in future.
16. Please suggest any ways in which your school could promote a more inclusive working culture  .
Career development 
17. I have received a staff development review in the past 12 months.
18. My staff development review was useful in reviewing my workload, performance and future objectives.
19. I am encouraged to take up mentoring opportunities (as a mentee).
20. I am encouraged to take up career development opportunities by my manager and/or the school more widely e.g. participating in conferences, sitting on school or external committees/boards/working groups, attending networking events.
21. I sit on a committee in my school, or at university level.
22. I sit on an external influential committee such as a charity management committee or national working group.
 23. There is fair access to training opportunities for everyone in my school.
24. In my school, staff who work part-time or flexibly are offered the same career development opportunities as those who work full time.
25. If you have attended the university’s Springboard Programme, please tell us whether it has made a difference to your work.
26. Please suggest any ways in which your school could promote a more inclusive approach to career development.
27.  In the SoE , work is allocated to staff on a fair and transparent basis.
28. I have been given opportunities to express my views about the work that is allocated to me.
29. Work I do outside of my contracted hours is recognised and appreciated by my manager/school.
30. My workload is manageable.
31. I feel confident that I can decide not to attend to emails outside of my work hours.
32. I am given disproportionate responsibilities for any of the following: Teaching, Research, Placement Visits, Administrative, cross-school duties, or other. Please comment.
33. Please suggest any ways in which your school could promote a more inclusive approach to workload planning.
34. I receive support and encouragement from the SoE to apply for promotion or internal jobs.
35. When I applied for promotion in the SoE , I was successful.
36. When I applied for promotion in the SoE , I was unsuccessful.
37. I applied for promotion a number of times before I was successful.
38. When I applied for promotion in my school, I received appropriate and useful feedback. Please comment.
39.  Everyone has fair and equal access to promotion opportunities in my school.
40. Please comment on the process of applying for promotion.
41. If you haven’t put yourself forward for promotion, why? Please comment.
42. Recruitment decision making panels in my school have an even gender balance.
43. I understand why positive action may be required to  promote gender equality. Please define or give an example that shows your understanding.
44. If you have attended the university’s Springboard Programme, please tell us whether it has made a difference to your work.
45. In  areas of the SoE’s work where there is a gender imbalance,  positive action is used to try to even up the imbalance.
46. Please suggest any ways in which your school could promote a more inclusive approach to applying for promotion.
Flexible working 
47. I am aware of how to request flexible working (e.g. part-time work, job share).
48. The SoE’s flexible working practices work well.
49. Flexible working is supported in the SoE.
50. I work flexibly (e.g. flexible work pattern, term-time working, working from my home, compressed hours).
51. I have decided not to request to work part-time or flexibly because I feel this would negatively affect my career e.g. taking longer to progress.
52. Please suggest any ways in which your school could promote a more inclusive approach to flexible working.
Access to family leave – maternity, adoption, parental and paternity leave 
53. I have received adequate support from the SoE leading up to maternity, adoption, parental or paternity leave.
54. I feel that there is sufficient flexibility and support to enable me to fulfil caring and/or childcare responsibilities, both planned and unplanned.
55. I have been/was kept up to date with work developments (e.g. using Keep In Touch days, Shared Parental In Touch days) during my maternity/adoption/shared parental leave.
56. I have received adequate support from the SoE when returning from maternity, adoption, parental or paternity leave.
57. I believe that taking maternity/adoption/shared parental leave has had a negative impact on my career e.g. ability to apply for promotion.
58. Do you have any suggestions based on your own personal experiences of taking maternity, adoption, shared parental leave or paternity leave for improving SoE practice around this?

Thank you!