The University of Lincoln, UK, is spearheading equality and opportunity for female academics, providing numerous funding schemes, inspirational lectures and mentoring programmes.
A new report details the University’s successes since signing up to the Athena SWAN charter, which encourages institutions to develop employment practices to advance the representation, plus further and support the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).
Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln, said: “This report provides clear evidence of the impact Athena SWAN has had both at institutional level and for individuals. The University of Lincoln’s support of women’s science careers benefits everyone as we attract and, most importantly, retain female academics who might otherwise be forced to consider other employment routes. I am extremely proud of the great strides the University has made in addressing the underrepresentation of women in STEMM and look forward to seeing the Athena SWAN principles become more deeply embedded within the institution.”
A number of supportive initiatives have been set up by the Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Group (WiSE@Lincoln), together with a blog site developed to provide a central information point for STEMM-specific career guidance, training, support and inspiration for female academics.
One of these is the WiSE Academic Returners’ Research Fund, which enables female scientists to plan and sustain their research activities either during or after maternity leave.
One recipient is Dr Lucy Easthope, from the School of Life Sciences, who works in the field of Disaster Victim Identification and Mass Fatalities Planning.
She said: “The University values and supports women working in science. I am passionate about my work and my research and that means I have always been determined to manage my research life alongside motherhood. The field in which I work changes very quickly and reimagines with every new incident so it is essential to stay current. The funding has meant that I didn’t fall behind with opportunities or access to events, and has enabled me to start a research project which will hopefully lead to much greater funding in the future.”
The University has also provided opportunities to academics who have taken extended career breaks, through the Back to Science Fellowships. The aim is to enable Research Associates to kick-start their careers by joining an established research group and gaining contemporary research experience.
Physicist Fiona Bissett and ecologist Dr Graziella Iossa received the first two awards and are now undertaking research projects alongside academic colleagues in Lincoln’s College of Science.
In addition, the Charlotte Angas Scott Research Fellowship has been introduced to encourage more postdoctoral women in the fields of engineering and computer science. The 2015 Fellowship has been awarded to Dr Liyun Gong and is a joint appointment between the Schools of Computer Science and Engineering.
The University of Lincoln has also introduced the Be Inspired! lecture series, which sees eminent female scientists deliver high-profile research lectures at the University; and The Newton Academy – a three-year program for 10-14 year olds to encourage young girls to pursue post-16 study and careers in science and technology.
2015 will see a Student Athena SWAN Committee established to engage the student body in the Athena SWAN principles.
Professor Belinda Colston, University of Lincoln’s Athena SWAN Coordinator, said: “The University has come a long way in its Athena SWAN journey over the past year – many new initiatives have been launched as the University strives to change organisational culture – and the Athena SWAN principles are becoming firmly embedded in everything we do. But it doesn’t stop here. We have a five-year plan to take the University further forward and will start to see the further impact of current initiatives and future plans that are in the pipeline.”