UCD School of Veterinary Medicine Selected to apply for Athena SWAN Award

Following on from UCD receiving the Athena SWAN Bronze Institutional Award in March this year, the School of Veterinary Medicine has now been selected to apply for an Athena SWAN award at School level.

About Athena SWAN

The Athena SWAN Charter evolved from work between the Athena Project and the Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN), to advance the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM).  The Charter, established in 2005, is managed by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) which is based in the UK.  In May 2015, the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Business and Law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

The Athena SWAN Charter is based on ten key principles. By being part of Athena SWAN, institutions are committing to a progressive charter; adopting these principles within their policies, practices, action plans and culture.  You can read more about ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter and the ten key principles here: http://www.ecu.ac.uk/equality-charters/athena-swan/about-athena-swan/

Members who sign up to the charter are expected to apply for an Athena SWAN award at Bronze, Silver or Gold level.  Each award is valid for three years. In 2015, the Athena SWAN Charter was launched in Ireland, with the support of the Higher Education Authority.  Figures published by the Higher Education Authority highlight gender inequality as an issue for our sector: across Irish universities, only 19% of professors are women. In institutes of technology, women make up 45% of academic staff but just 29% of senior academic staff.

UCD and Athena SWAN

UCD was awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze Institutional Award in March this year.  The University has described this award as ‘a welcome recognition of UCD’s commitment to our community to enhance gender equality in the university and as a significant milestone for UCD.’ Diversity is highlighted in the university’s strategic plan as one of the core values of UCD, and one of our strategic objectives is the attraction and retention of an excellent and diverse cohort of students, faculty and staff.  The University sees the Athena SWAN Gender Equality Action Plan as being central to our ability to deliver on this objective.

Athena SWAN awards are also made at School level, and as part of the overall Gender Equality Action Plan, UCD will support a number of Schools in applying for an award; earlier this year, the School of Veterinary Medicine set up a committee to work on an expression of interest for this.  The committee, which is chaired by Torres Sweeney, also includes Rory Breathnach, Joe Cassidy, Michael Doherty, James Gibbons, Lynne Hughes, Grace Mulcahy, Niamh Nestor, Sinead Ryan and Cliona Skelly; this committee will now become our Athena SWAN Self Assessment Team (SAT).  The UCD Gender Equality Action Group has agreed to support our School in the submission of an application for an Athena SWAN award in 2018.  The School will work with UCD Human Resouces (HR) on next steps and putting supports in place to allow for our application to go forward.  Athena SWAN advise that having an effective SAT and undertaking a thorough self-assessment is key to the success of an application and fundamentally, to the effectiveness of the process.  UCD HR is organising a briefing session for all School SATs in November to provide them with guidance and practical information around the preparation of an application, and from there, our SAT will engage with staff and students across the School to identify gaps and challenges and to put together our Athena SWAN application and action plan.