Our 2023–2028 Athena Swan action plan

Published: 23 October 2023

Following the renewal of our Athena Swan (AS) Gold award earlier this year, a new action plan is now in place, aimed at making our culture and our environment as fair, comfortable and enabling as possible for staff and students alike, as AS champion Julie Langan Martin explains...

SHW Athena Swan champion Julie Langan Martin introduces our new Athena Swan action plan, and the areas that working groups will focus on in the coming years to try to tackle inequities and improve wellbeing.

Photo of office workers chatting with coffee and plants

The new 2023–2028 Athena Swan Action Plan focusses on seven priority areas for action.

Each priority area is summarised below.

  1. Academic workload
    Many SHW academic staff are working excessive hours, and we have evidence from our surveys that this is a source of stress. Tackling this has the potential to improve work-life balance and job satisfaction across our whole school.
  2. Career progression for professional services staff
    We must now consider what more can be done to support the career progression of professional services (PS) staff who do not have a systematic route to grade advancement, as this means that staff members are often unable to work towards progression aspirations within their existing roles. This in turn may lead to a loss of talented staff from SHW.
  3. Multisource feedback (MSF) for staff in leadership roles
    Staff surveys give us an insight into the overall impact of leaders’ and managers’ behaviour – particularly affecting ECRs and PS staff. As such we need ways to facilitate constructive feedback for individual staff members. MSF may be one such route.
  4. Staff wellbeing
    Wellbeing has always been a cross-cutting issue for our SAT and several of our working groups. Staff feedback indicates that wellbeing and EDI initiatives are closely linked, with particular awareness of gender differences in mental health and help-seeking, so we will focus on this in line with the Healthy Universities framework.
  5. Understanding and addressing intersections between gender and other characteristics
    It is essential that we consider intersectional aspects of inequalities affecting our staff and students, including age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic factors. Our staff consultation results were clear that we must move beyond gender alone to address the broader EDI landscape.
  6. ECR career development
    We have a highly engaged ECR working group who will continue developing and implementing actions to ensure that all ECRs have opportunities to thrive and build their careers in SHW on an equal basis, regardless of gender and other circumstances such as parenting and caring.
  7. Sustaining and expanding Athena Swan initiatives
    We have been fortunate to have had many committed and active SAT and working group members over the past ten years, but the ongoing reliance on volunteers delivering much of this work as part of their service contribution to the university is unsustainable. In order to truly embed our achievements and ensure continuity and expansion, we will make the case for a greater allocation of funded staff time to support routine aspects of AS work that underpin our capacity to have an ongoing impact.

More detailed information about the action plan can be found in our Athena Swan Renewal Application

Julie Langan Martin
SHW Athena Swan Champion

First published: 23 October 2023