Athena SWAN in the Faculty of Biological Sciences (BioS)


The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine achieved an Institutional Athena SWAN Bronze Award in the November 2013 application round. 

Clinical Sciences and International Public Health (CSIPH) has applied for a Faculty Athena SWAN Bronze award as evidence of our commitment to promoting equity and establishing an inclusive culture within our Faculty. We have established a Faculty Self-Assessment Team (SAT) which has been working hard on consulting with staff in the Faculty, exploring experiences of work-life balance, promotion, and perceptions of prevailing culture within the Faculty. The SAT team has produced an Action Plan based on staff consultation which, we believe, will contribute to ensuring that all colleagues in the Faculty are supported to reach their full potential. 

Athena SWAN is based on ten key principles,which reflect the expansion of the Charter in 2015 to recognise (a) work undertaken in professional and support roles (and not only academic roles); (b) support for trans staff and students; (c) work carried out to address gender equality more broadly, and in all subject areas, and not just barriers to progression that affect women in STEMM; and (d) work carried out to explore the intersection of gender and other factors. Following this expansion, the team will initiate work to develop actions that address all staff in both our departments.

What we do

We have carried out extensive staff consultation activities since 2014, including surveys, focus groups and interviews. Main issues identified relate to support for promotion, return from career breaks, and travel for research purposes. An underlying theme is the need to support colleagues who are on fixed-term contracts.
We have been working with central services on developing and enhancing policies and practices at institutional level, including providing recommendations relating to the central tenure track process; developing a mentoring scheme which has been adopted School-wide; and contributing towards the establishment of a family-leave checklist to be used prior to the start of leave, and designed to prompt and record discussions around support, cover, and the return to work process.

Further planned action at Faculty level includes:
• A new £2,000 Faculty budget for a series of equality and diversity events to foster inclusivity within the Faculty (in collaboration with our sister faculty)
• Plans to showcase the work of female scientists in our Faculty (through creating/displaying posters and case studies).
• A new £1,000 Faculty Keeping In Touch (KIT) day Fund to cover childcare costs during KIT days.
• Creation of a database of local childcare providers
• Active promotion of the availability of central and departmental-level funds to colleagues returning from maternity leave.
• Increasing awareness and understanding of paternity leave and shared parental leave
• Launch of a BioS parent buddying scheme
• Assessment of use and effectiveness of central mentoring scheme
• Development of dedicated interactive webspace for colleagues on fixed-term contracts
• Identification of need for student parents’ network
• Plans to ensure Faculty meetings take place during core hours and highlight practice on Faculty AS website.
• Increase opportunities for informal interactions in BioS via use of the new institutional Social Space and other activities.
• Focus on outreach activities as a way of increasing the pipeline into disciplines within BioS