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. Our REC Bronze Award was confirmed in 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 recognised as a university of quality and distinction. The University remains wholly committed to achieving our equality goals and has continued to invest and give its full support. All of our Schools now have equality, diversity and inclusion committees that feed into our central EDI Forum and high-level Inclusion Committee, forming the basis of our 'bottom-up' approach to effect change.
Our plans are ambitious, but we have embarked on a route which we believe can, and will, make a difference. 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.
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, to make a contribution to national aspirations to achieve gender-parity at undergraduate level in all STEMM disciplines, and to establish an Academic Returners’ Research Fund, which continues to enable our female academics to plan and sustain their research activities around maternity leave. In 2016 we expanded our Athena Swan work to include all Schools across the University.
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.
Our Race Equality work and self-evaluation process has been on-going since 2017, and led to our successful application for a REC Bronze Award in April 2021.
In 2020, the REC work became part of a wider Race Equality Project, emphasising that the charter mark was not the ultimate aim, but a stepping-stone within a much broader framework towards an ‘Inclusive University’.
An intersectional Approach
Ensuring coherence of equality work and providing an intersectional voice, our Athena Swan and Race Equality Action Plans (2021–25) will be implemented together.
The University has invested significantly in EDI over the last 8 years, providing resource and support for equality charter work. The Eleanor Glanville Centre was established in 2017 (central department for diversity and inclusion) and is led by a senior academic (0.5FTE). An Equalities Project Manager (1FTE) and Equalities Project Officer (1FTE) are engaged full-time in the EGC. The EGC works in partnership with the EDI team in HR, which provides additional resource for race and gender equality charters: Head of EDI (0.25FTE), Equalities Manager (0.25FTE), Race Equality Officer (1FTE) and an EDI Research Officer (0.5FTE). The University also provides an annual budget to support equality work, including funding initiatives and resourcing our staff support networks.