Engineers Celebrate Athena Swan Success

18 January 2024

Proud to be an Engineer
Proud to be an Engineer
2024-2029 Athena Swan Bronze Award
2024-2029 Athena Swan Bronze Award

Gender equality recognised by Athena Swan Bronze Award

First recognised in 2010, the School has now had this award conferred for another five years until 2029, where the conditions were met "directly and fully". The Athena Swan Charter works across the globe to support and transform gender equality in Higher Education and research. Since 2005, the Charter has encouraged institutions to advance the careers of women and address gender equality in STEM.

School’s Athena Swan achievements

Since the last award in 2018, the School has made significant achievements

  • First female Head of School in Engineering and Materials
  • Appointed five EDI roles to co-lead priorities in Athena Swan and EDI forming the SEMS EDI Steering Group (9 members) and SEMS EDI Committee (20 members)
  • Seen an increase in female academic staff from 14% in 2018 to 20% in 2023
  • A large rise in female PhD students from 18% to 40%
  • Three awards for “Engineer Your Story” and “Picture An Engineer” funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) and Storyfutures Academy with the Ideas Foundation led by Tina Chowdhury
  • An Ingenious RAEng Award for “Proud to be an Engineer” to showcase stories from engineers who are underrepresented in industry from LGBTQ+ or with a disability led by Michael Woolley
  • Over 100 EDI related education, engagement and research events with 20 workshops each year to support students, raise profiles and connect communities

Building a Community in East London

The application included testimony from female staff members of a supportive environment with a focus on community and mentoring. Student examples highlight the School’s Skills & Employability Week, Queen Mary’s Festival of Communities and Industry Liaison Forum, with outcomes showcased on the School’s EDI webpages.

Tina Chowdhury, who is the SEMS EDI Co-Lead said "In the UK, women are underrepresented in engineering but at QMUL, we are driving change with a growing presence of female engineers in several disciplines such as mechanical, energy and biomedical engineering. I am proud of our School's achievements with over 100 EDI events, four research awards from the Story Futures Academy and the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the drive to inspire and grow, everything we do, both now and in the future."

Prof Hazel Screen who is the Head of School said “I am delighted to see the fantastic hard work of our EDI Committee acknowledged through this award. It is so important we continue to promote and nurture diversity within engineering, and I am hugely proud of the work by our EDI team in both developing an inclusive culture across the school and helping ensure we promote engineering as a career path for all”.

An Ambitious Athena Swan Action Plan

The School continues to progress and has bold ambitions for the coming years, outlining plans for improvement before 2030, grouped into three aims that will:

  • Improve staff gender balance in academic staff across disciplines in engineering
  • Increase awareness and discussions to promote fairness and equality, with gender and other protected characteristics
  • Address challenges outlined in university surveys, committing to a shared vision of gender equality, transparency and culture through policy and clear targets

Prof Richard Pickersgill who is the EDI Lead for the Faculty of Science and Engineering said “Queen Mary stands out as the most inclusive university within the Russell Group and is consistently ranked among the world’s best universities for excellence in engineering. The success of Queen Mary's engineers is closely linked to the institution’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity. The commendable efforts of the EDI Steering Group and of all staff in the School in fostering an inclusive environment and culture, where everyone is valued regardless of their characteristics or background, are rightfully acknowledged through this Athena Swan award. Congratulations to all involved in this achievement.”

Contact:Tina Chowdhury
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