Professor Tracy Kivell, Athena SWAN Lead and Head of School, reflects on receiving the Athena SWAN Bronze Award:
“The School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC) is proud to announce that it has been awarded an Athena SWAN Bronze Award demonstrating our commitment to improving gender equality for students and staff within our School and higher education in general. Dr Tatyana Humle, Reader in Conservation and Primate Behaviour and a member of SAC’s Athena SWAN team since its inception in 2015, says that this award ‘is an important recognition of our dedication to promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity. With the help of my colleagues and students, I am excited to carry on fostering an environment where everyone feels welcome and supported and is treated fairly.’
“Advanced HE’s Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to address the often stark under-representation of women in STEMM subjects (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine), particularly at more senior levels within academia. In 2015, the Charter was expanded to recognise the work put towards advancing women’s careers in the arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law, and to also include professional service colleagues (not just academics) as well as trans students and staff.
“The gender inequality found within most academic disciplines is often the result of the ‘leaky pipeline’, in which there may be a more balanced ratio of women and men at the undergraduate, graduate or even lecturer level, but men dominate the more senior Reader and Professor roles. Athena SWAN aims to encourage and recognise the work that goes into addressing the barriers that cause women to either leave or not progress in the same way that men do in academia.
“SAC’s Bronze Award is in recognition of our commitment to improving gender equality among our students and staff, both academic and professional services, to create a more inclusive working environment for all. SAC is no different from many social science Schools in which our undergraduate student body has more women than men. In fact, in SAC 70-75% of our undergraduates are women. Thus our Bronze Award acknowledges our commitment to working harder to attract more male students to our disciplines. At the other end of the spectrum, SAC also has a ‘leaky pipeline’ problem in which the majority of our Readers and Professors are men. Our Bronze Award sets out an action plan to tackle these, and other, gender issues to ultimately make SAC a more equal and inclusive place for all of us.
“James Kloda, our Technical Support Officer, who helped write the successful application, stated, “It was important for me to be involved in the submission process for the award, from the initial data gathering right through to writing an action plan. Whilst the Bronze Award specifically focuses on gender equality and equitable promotion opportunities for academic staff, it was important to provide balance and insight from the point of view of a member of a professional services’ team, which has an under-representation of men across the University. The application for a Silver Award broadens the scope of the Action Plan to increase equity for professional services.’
“Although our award was granted in July this year, our School has already made a few important changes to its operation. In 2018, we established a School ‘code of conduct’ clearly outlining behavioural expectations for staff and students alike so everyone feels welcome, safe and included. In 2019, we composed University-wide guidance on preventing and dealing with behavioural misconduct in an off-campus setting, such as at conferences or when conducting fieldwork (a longstanding problem not only in academia but in multiple different industries and occupations that the #MeToo movement brought to the forefront). And we have set up an Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) Committee to organise and facilitate our School’s action plan, although it is important to note that these actions must be embraced by everyone to be effective.
“We are delighted that the work we have already done and the work we are committed to doing has now been acknowledged via this Athena SWAN Bronze Award. These awards are not easy to come by and represent a significant achievement for both our School and the University of Kent, which is currently working towards obtaining its Silver Award.”