Engineering acclaimed for boosting equality

athena swan pr

8 May 2017

  • School of Engineering and Applied Science remains silver award holder after rigorous and extensive appraisal  
  • Expanded Athena SWAN Charter now encompasses all areas of diversity 
  • Good practice being adopted University-wide and by all other Schools 

Aston University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science is today, 8 May, celebrating earning a prestigious Athena SWAN silver award for the second time which recognises its progress in addressing gender and other inequalities in academia. 

The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) made the announcement following rigorous assessment, including external peer review and extensive internal self-assessment by the School. 

The School first achieved silver award status in 2014. The Athena SWAN scheme was expanded to take a wider view of diversity in 2015 and today’s accolade reflects the School’s hard work in meeting the extended criteria.      

Professor Robert Berry, who led the School’s submission, said: “The Athena SWAN awards are the national benchmark reflecting how well higher education institutions are tacking the issue of equal representation.  

“The School of Engineering and Applied Science has worked for many years to identify and address barriers to the progression of women, earning the Athena Swan Silver award in 2014. We have continued to implement initiatives to support the principles and were pleased to see the programme broadened in 2015 to take a wider view of diversity and recognition for the support and development of all staff.” 

“I am particularly proud of our School’s leadership role in diversity for Aston University, with many initiatives adopted in other Schools and at University level,” he added. “These include planning for standards for central service data provision to support managers making decisions around diversity, new University-level policies for guaranteeing maternity cover for all positions and for ensuring committees and leadership teams reflect the diversity of our community, as well as the development of a reporting system that recognises and values the work of all staff.” 

He explained that the School had established an engineering equality and diversity group responsible for raising awareness of diversity issues and initiating innovative projects to identify and remove barriers to individual achievement. All new initiatives were evaluated before being implemented School-wide and progress reported on a monthly basis. 

Work to enhance diversity in the School encompasses initiatives for students, including the Aston Progression Pathway - a two-day residential course for local A-Level students to explore engineering subjects; courses in computer science and mathematics and master classes for A-Level students in engineering disciplines.


Notes to the editor

  • Athena SWAN at Aston University: In 2009, Aston University established an Athena SWAN task group, led by Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Alison Halstead, to closely examine the representation of women at all levels in the Schools of Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) and Life and Health Sciences (LHS). As a result, the University was awarded an Athena SWAN bronze award in 2010. 
  • The School of Engineering and Applied Science first achieved a silver award in 2014. The second silver award runs until 2020. The School of Life and Health Sciences was awarded a bronze award in 2014. 
  • The Athena SWAN award programme was established by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing careers of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM), employed in higher education and research.
  • In 2015, the ECU expanded the Charter to include other subject areas and to take a wider view of diversity, as well as support the careers of women and men (where appropriate) in academic, professional and support roles. It also supports trans staff and students and the working environment for all staff. For more details go to the ECU website 
  • There are currently 143 members holding 617 bronze, silver or gold awards. 
  • Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has been always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry. 

For more information, contact Susi Turner or Ben Kennedy from Aston’s media team on 0121 204 4978 / 4592 or email / 

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