Athena Swan

SEMS promotes equality and fairness in all aspects of school life. Athena Swan is specifically aimed at advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. While the School is committed to this agenda, the action plan devised by our self-assessment team aims to improve fairness, support career progression and ensure a good work-life balance for all staff and students. The School has committed to the following UK Athena Swan Principles:

Queen Mary University of London - School of Engineering and Materials Science
Commitment to the UK Athena Swan Principles

In committing to the principles of the Athena Swan Charter, the Queen Mary University of London School of Engineering and Materials Science, has joined a global community with a shared goal of addressing gender inequalities and embedding inclusive cultures.

In joining this community, the Queen Mary University of London School of Engineering and Materials Science has committed to:

  1. adopting robust, transparent and accountable processes for gender equality work, including:
    1. embedding diversity, equity and inclusion in their culture, decision-making and partnerships, and holding themselves and others in the department accountable
    2. undertaking evidence-based, transparent self-assessment processes to direct their priorities and interventions for gender equality, and evaluating their progress to inform their continuous development
    3. ensuring that gender equality work is distributed appropriately, is recognised and properly rewarded.
  2. addressing structural inequalities and social injustices that manifest as differential experiences and outcomes for staff and students
  3. tackling behaviours and cultures that detract from the safety and collegiality of their work and study environments, including not tolerating gender-based violence, discrimination, bullying, harassment or exploitation
  4. understanding and addressing intersectional inequalities
  5. recognising that individuals can determine their own gender identity, and tackling the specific issues faced by trans and non-binary people
  6. examining gendered occupational segregation, and elevating the status, voice and career opportunities of any identified under-valued and at-risk groups
  7. mitigating the gendered impact of caring responsibilities and career breaks, and supporting flexibility and the maintenance of a healthy whole life balance
  8. mitigating the gendered impact of short-term and casual contracts for staff seeking sustainable careers.

We have introduced several key policies:

  • A mentoring scheme for postdocs was launched in 2014.

  • A part time working guarantee for academic staff was introduced by which a member of staff who decides to work part-time can come back to their previous maximum FTE at any time.

  • Substantial support for staff returning from maternity leave or long-term illness is provided. The nature of the support is tailored to the individual’s needs.

  • A professorial advisory group who mentors and advises academic staff on career progression was formed.

  • Improved first year tutorial support to ease the transition from school to university and raise the career aspirations of students was introduced.

  • Staff meetings and the school forum now include all staff. The meetings are held in core hours and on alternating days to allow all staff to attend most of them.

  • All meetings are arranged within SEMS Core Hours defined as 10.00 -16.00. 


SEMS was awarded an Athena Swan Bronze award in November 2012; view our submission document (PDF). The School's Bronze award was renewed in December 2018 and presented to Dr Lei Su by Professor Dame Julia Higgins in Oxford.

On 25 Sept 2023, Tina Chowdhury submitted the School's bronze renewal application to the Athena Swan panel with the support of the School's EDI Steering Group. 

The action plan (PDF) is continually reviewed and updated.

The SEMS Athena Swan & EDI Steering Group meet monthly (Tuesday, 1400-1500).

The SEMS EDI Committee meet once a semester (Week 7, Tuesday , 1400-1500)

Your comments and suggestions are very welcome.