UCLan earns prestigious national award for its commitment to eliminating gender bias in the workplace

6 April 2020

Athena SWAN Bronze Award recognises university’s efforts to create equal opportunities for all staff

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been awarded a prestigious national award in recognition of its commitment to eliminating gender bias across its campuses.

The Athena SWAN Bronze award recognises the efforts of higher education organisations to  create an inclusive work culture for both men and women in academic, professional and support roles. The award also looks to provide equal opportunities for study, promotion and career development for everyone, including trans staff and students.

To earn the award the university has taken a number of important steps in the last five years to increase his its commitment to gender equality.

"This award is an endorsement of the collective effort across the University driven by our dedicated Athena SWAN Self Assessment Team."

These include changes to allow positive career progression and promotion opportunities for all staff at the university. In 2015/16, for example, UCLan introduced two additional routes to promotion to Reader/Professor roles at the university, adding Teaching and Learning and Innovation and Enterprise options in addition to the well-established Research route. These created fairness for those whose work focusses on these routes. Currently, 33% of Professors are female, higher than the Sector benchmark (24.6%).

To further meet its commitment, in 2017 the University converted Associate Lecturers roles to substantive Lecturer positions. Associate Lecturers can now expect a future career at UCLan, enabling students to be taught by staff with long-term investment in their course.

 Athena Swan Bronze Award
Athena Swan Bronze Award

Through this initiative, UCLan has also increased the number of women at Grade H (Research Fellow/Lecturer) by 16% (198 to 230) and the number of men by 24% (162 to 201).

In March 2019, the Government’s Equalities Office found UCLan to be one of the 10% of Universities without a gender pay gap favouring men.

Currently the overall gender balance of the workforce is 57% female (1803) and 43% male (1359) which is in line with the sector benchmarks; 54.4% female and 45.6% male (HESA 2018-19).

UCLan Vice Chancellor, Professor Graham Baldwin, said “This is fantastic news and reflects the positive steps we are making as an institution in identify equality challenges and opportunities, and taking positive action towards a healthy, supportive and fair workplace where everyone is treated equally.”

UCLan Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Executive Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Dr Lynne Livesey, said “This award is an endorsement of the collective effort across the University driven by our dedicated Athena SWAN Self Assessment Team.  We are committed to successfully achieving our wide-ranging and ambitious Athena SWAN Action Plan over the next four years, and to ensuring EDI is an integral part of our new Institutional Strategy”.

The University has been a full member of the Athena SWAN Charter since 2005 and was first awarded an Institutional Bronze award in April 2014.  The award recognises the University’s commitment to ensuring the Charter’s ten principles are adopted within all of its policies, practices and culture. 

UCLan’s Athena SWAN Project Manager, Professor Lois Thomas, said “I am absolutely delighted Advance HE have recognised the huge amount of work we have done as an institution to embed the Athena SWAN principles into our culture and practices. 

“I am very much looking forward to engaging all staff across the University in taking forward our Athena SWAN priorities over the next four years.  These include doing more to  support part-time working; providing effective mentoring; moving towards an equal gender balance at Reader/Professor level; developing Professional, Technical, Administrative and Support (PTAS) staff; improving probationary practice for all; and reviewing workload analysis to create a more transparent and equitable working environment.”