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Athena SWAN success for SPCLS and SPEIR

Athena SWAN logo

We are delighted to announce that the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences (SPCLS) has been awarded an Athena SWAN Silver, and the School of Politics, Economics, and International Relations (SPEIR) an Athena SWAN Bronze award.

Athena SWAN awards recognise the advancement of gender equality in higher education. SPCLS and SPEIR are among eight Schools at our University that hold an Athena SWAN award.

Silver awards are held by the School of Chemistry, Food & Pharmacy (SCFP), School of the Built Environment (SBE), School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences (SMPCS), and the School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science (SAGES) and SPCLS.

Bronze awards are currently held by School of Agriculture, Policy and Development (SAPD), and School of Biological Sciences (SBS) and SPEIR.

In 2020, our University also won an institutional Athena SWAN Silver.

SPCLS’s submission was led by Professor Patricia Riddell, while Dr Sarah von Billerbeck (Politics and International Relations) and Prof. Marina Della Giusta (Economics) led by the submission for SPEIR.

Professor Riddell said, “As Chair of our Well-being, Inclusion, Diversity and Equality committee for the past 10 years, it has been my pleasure to work with colleagues to ensure that the principles of diversity and inclusion are embedded in all that we do as a School. I have witnessed a journey that has taken us from having to push the gender equality agenda to finding that many colleagues are working on their own gender-related projects without having been asked or encouraged to do so.

“We are a community that embraces the need for change in many areas of diversity and inclusion and find ways to advance this change in our own practice and the silver Athena SWAN award is a recognition of the success of our commitment.”

Dr von Billerbeck and Professor Della Giusta said, “We are really pleased that SPEIR has received an Athena SWAN Bronze Award. It’s a testament to the dedication of colleagues across the School to promoting greater gender equality, not just here at Reading, but also more broadly in higher education.

“The award comes in a year that has been so challenging for all universities and particularly for all the women with caring responsibilities who worked hard to get this submission together. We have worked for a number of years preparing for this process and it fills us with pride to see it come to fruition!”

The Head of SPCLS, Professor Carmel Houston-Price, said, “Colleagues and students at our School are committed to gender equality as part of our wider efforts to promote diversity and inclusion at the University. As a School that recruits predominantly female students, we are in a strong position to support women in science in reaching their full potential. Since our last bronze award, we have been working very hard to demonstrate the impact of the work that we do in this area for both staff and students and we are delighted that our achievements have been recognised with a silver award.”

Professor Uma Kambhampati, Head of SPEIR, said, “The award reflects the progress that our School has made on equality and diversity issues and commits us to working hard over the next few years to build on this achievement. I would like to thank all the colleagues and students who worked for this during a very challenging time for all of us.’

The application process for an Athena SWAN award requires a substantial effort over a long period, including extensive data gathering, an in-depth self-assessment, and surveys and focus groups among staff and students. Each submission also includes a detailed 5-year action plan based on the self-assessment process.

The award, which was granted following a unanimous decision of the judging panel, is valid until 2026.

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