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Prof Parveen Yaqoob to chair Athena Swan oversight committee

colour portrait photograph of Professor Parveen Yaqoob


Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy-Vice Chancellor of the University, has been announced as the first chair of a new Athena Swan expert committee which will oversee transformation of the charter for gender equality in Higher Education.

Advance HE announced today (23 July) that Professor Yaqoob will be the inaugural chair of a new Governance Committee. The committee will provide assurance, expert advice and guidance to the Advance HE board on matters relating to the transformation and ongoing enhancement of the Athena Swan charter, following recommendations by an independent review of the Athena Swan scheme.

Professor Yaqoob, who combines her role at Reading as Deputy Vice-Chancellor with that of joint Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, will chair the committee made up of leaders in the field of equality, and have either strategic or practical involvement in Athena Swan in their institution or region. Having experienced the issues identified by the review, the group will be committed to improving the quality and impact of the Charter and will monitor and ensure the transformation progress is in line with the recommendations of the review, reporting to the Advance HE board.

Professor Yaqoob said:

“I am honoured to be taking up the role as chair of the newly formed Governance Committee for Athena Swan. Over the course of my career, I have been motivated to be the change I want to see for women in academia.

“The recent review of the Athena Swan charter has set out some clear changes to ensure that it continues to be an effective driver of gender equality. I am looking forward to playing an active role on the committee to help shape the next stage in the journey of the Charter, which will see it adapt to a changing world, and I feel truly privileged to be part of affecting that change.”

New Committee to oversee Athena Swan transformation

Following an open national call, the Committee membership has been selected with representation from across the sector ensuring that Advance HE members are at the heart of the transformation of Athena Swan.

The new committee will work alongside the Advance HE Board, existing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion; and Peer Review Quality Committees ensuring efficient and effective sector oversight of Athena Swan.

The ambition is for the new charter process to be published at the end of 2020. The Committee will work with the Athena Swan transformation team to layout a transition period and practical support to help members move from the old process to the new process in a way that supports members’ work.

Alison Johns, Advance HE Chief Executive, said:

“I am delighted to welcome the new Committee members. They have a vital role as the voice for the sector as we work together to operationalise the recommendations of the Independent Review and transform the Charter.

“We are absolutely committed to an Athena Swan Charter that is both accessible and has impact. My driver since commissioning the Independent Review has been to focus on reducing burden and ensure we can continue to make real progress in improving gender equality in higher education and research. In particular, the focus on culture is an important and welcome recommendation. Now more than ever it is important that we deliver these changes and we will work closely with the Athena Swan Governance Committee to create fairer and more inclusive conditions so that everybody is given the opportunity to thrive.

“The forming of this Committee, and the outstanding individuals who have come forward to serve on it, will help us realise this fundamentally important goal for our sector. The improvements to this Charter serve to drive forward gender equality in HE. We are grateful to everyone who expressed an interest and it is our intention to create further opportunities for colleagues to engage in the transformation process as we move forwards together.”


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