10 years of Athena Swan in IHW: what difference have we made?

Over the past 10 years our Athena Swan journey has encompassed a huge range of activities and accomplishments. 

Photo of Athena Swan gold, silver and bronze plaques

As the present Athena Swan Champion I am proud to continue the work of past champions Professor Anna Cooper and Professor Cindy Gray, who have led us on the pathway from Bronze to Silver to Gold Award.

Here are some of the ways in which Athena Swan makes a difference in IHW.

  • We have developed a number of initiatives to try to address the problem of work/life balance in academia. We acknowledge that this is a significant ongoing challenge and we seek every opportunity to promote and facilitate a balanced culture.
  • Career progression is a central issue for both academic and professional services staff. We hold annual promotion and career advancement workshops and we work hard to bust the myths in this area. We also support a range of mentoring schemes and we work hard to ensure that the voices of early career researchers (ECRs) are heard.
  • IHW plays a leading role in influencing the ways in which the university supports parents and carers. Our webpages aim to support IHW staff and students to access the relevant policies and guidelines and we are proud to be involved in important events such as Carers Week.
  • Wellbeing – both physical and mental – is paramount for our staff and students. We have led the way in highlighting the impact of invisible disabilities, forming a thriving BSL Café group and creating the WOW toolkit for older workers. In recognition of the massive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the way we work and study, we developed guidance for staff and students to help promote helpful approaches to remote working and learning.
  • All of this is underpinned by our efforts to create a positive workplace culture so that IHW is a place where everyone has a sense of belonging. As well as our Ethnicity Champion, Sarah Amele, and Disability Champion, Elise Whitley, we now have IHW’s first LGBTQ+ safe-ally, Kate O’Donnell and safe community member Fiona Caryl.

We will continue to develop new initiatives and we welcome suggestions from across the IHW community – please feel free to get in touch with the IHW Athena Swan self assessment team (SAT) with any feedback or new ideas.

Breda Cullen 
IHW Athena Swan Champion


First published: 19 October 2021

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