Women scientists' better deal at the University of York

The University of York has won a national accolade for its commitment to women in science.

It is the first University in Yorkshire to win the Athena Swan Bronze Award from the Royal Society in recognition of its success in providing positive support for women at key career transition points, and involving more women in decision making.

An official announcement will be made at the Second UK-Korea Women in Science Forum at the Department of Trade and Industry in London on Thursday 12 October. York is one of a total of only 12 UK universities that have won Athena Swan awards. The Government's Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Sir David King will present the award to the University at the Royal Society on 13 March 2007.

The Athena Swan Charter is a scheme that recognises excellence in science, engineering and technology (SET) employment in higher education.

The University is working to attract women into science and retain those who might otherwise drift away by introducing more flexibility into the workforce and, at the same time, creating a better work environment for all staff.

The University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Cantor said: "We are proud that the University of York's commitment to the removal of barriers to women's progress in science, engineering and technology has been recognised with the Athena Swan Bronze Award.

"The award is an acknowledgement of our achievements so far, but we can and will do more. Providing better opportunities for women will enable us to reach our full potential in scientific research. It brings benefits not only to the individuals involved but also to the University as a whole."

The University's Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research Professor Alastair Fitter added: "Research is an intensely democratic activity: ideas and discoveries succeed by their worth, irrespective of who created them. Equity in research is therefore essential: this award shows that the University of York takes that seriously."

Organic chemist, Dr Anne Routledge, who joined the Department of Chemistry in 2000, is convinced that York's approach is working, and that the University already has a growing pool of women scientists to act as role models for prospective students.

"For undergraduates to see active female scientists must make a difference. We have to show them at the start that it is possible for them to have a successful career in science," she said.

Athena Project Programme Manager Caroline Fox said: "We are delighted to welcome York to the ranks of Athena Bronze SWANs and look forward to receiving Silver SWAN submissions from York's science departments."

The development of York's Athena Swan bid has been led by a Working Group, chaired by Professor Fitter and supported by the Research Policy Office, with input from the University's Personnel Department and Equal Opportunities Office. Science Departments have strongly supported the initiative with involvement from staff in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Electronics, Environment, Health Sciences, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology.

Departments will now work towards Silver and ultimately Gold Awards, with the involvement of female technical staff a high priority.

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Notes to Editors:

  • York has established an international reputation for the quality of its research. Each year, its academics produce a substantial body of the world's newest and best science and technology. The Government has identified the University of York's academic excellence as a key driver of local, regional and national economic success. The University has a total of 10,700 students, 3,000 staff and more than 30 academic departments and research centres. More information on research at York is available at http://www.york.ac.uk/research/


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