The University of Lincoln signed the Athena SWAN Charter in 2008, and the Race Equality Charter in 2016. We first received the Bronze Athena SWAN Award in 2014, and successfully renewed it in 2018. We are currently preparing our REC bronze award application, and are due to submit in February 2021
The past ten years has seen tremendous development within the University as we strive to realise our future vision to become a leading UK Higher Education Institution. We are committed to establishing a strong science and engineering base, and are now well on our way to achieving these goals – in 2010 we opened a state-of-the-art Engineering School; the College of Science was established in 2011, along with Schools in Life Sciences (2012), Pharmacy (2013), Chemistry (2014), Mathematics & Physics (2014) and Geography (2016). The new Lincoln Medical School was established in 2018 with the specific aim of improving the recruitment and retention of doctors to Lincolnshire. Our first students started their medical studies in September 2019.
Creating excellent working conditions and promoting equality of opportunity are important parts of our strategic plan – to recruit and retain the very best staff and to become recognized as a university of quality and distinction. The Athena SWAN project arose from our on-going equality and diversity work within the University as a whole, and a realisation that our STEMM disciplines were not reaching the standards of gender equality we wanted to achieve. As our STEMM provision expanded, the Athena SWAN project served as a valuable benchmark for our current achievements, and a mechanism to ensure that, in the future, our new STEMM schools achieve and retain gender-parity of opportunity from the outset.
In 2012, the University’s Athena SWAN Committee developed an ambitious action plan that clearly addressed our concerns for recruitment and retention, and aimed to build a framework for support, guidance and inspiration for our women in STEMM disciplines. It also aimed to reach out and inspire the young girls of Lincolnshire to be the STEMM innovators of the future, and to make a contribution to national aspirations to achieve gender-parity at undergraduate level in all STEMM disciplines.
Guided by our Action Plans (2014–17 and 2017–2021 ), we are beginning to see real improvement across the University (e.g. STEMM female representation among Readers and Professors has for the first time reached the WISE target of 30%); seven of our Schools have now received Athena SWAN awards – six Bronze Awards, and our first Silver Award for the School of Psychology. Having expanded our activities to include the AHSSBL disciplines in 2016, all of our Schools are now actively engaged in the self-evaluation process, with the ambition to gain awards by the end of 2021.
The University remains wholly committed to achieving our Athena SWAN goals and has continued to give its full support, investing over £0.5m in this project to date. A full-time Equalities Project Manager (2014–) and a full-time Equalities Project Officer (2016–) were recruited to provide further support and guidance, and our Academic Returners’ Research Fund continues to enable our female academics to plan and sustain their research activities around maternity leave.
Work to support the Race Equality Charter has begun, and our self-evaluation processes, in terms of race equality, are well on their way. As part of this process, all of our Schools now have equality, diversity and inclusion committees, that feed into our central EDI Forum and high-level Inclusion Committee, which forms the basis of our 'bottom-up' approach to effect change. We will submit our REC application for a bronze award in February 2021.
Our future work will continue to build on our achievements, helping us to sustain the impact that has already started to emerge, and to ensure our learning is transferred effectively across the institution as a whole.
Our plans are ambitious, but we have embarked on a route which we believe can, and will, make a difference.
We have established EDI committees in all of our academic schools across our four Colleges. These are all fully-engaged with our equality action plans and have either received departmental Athena SWAN awards, or are working towards submission of applications over the next two years