Boosting the number of women in science

Dr Rachel Horsley (left) and Dr Pip Nicholas

Dr Rachel Horsley (left) and Dr Pip Nicholas

02 January 2014

Aberystwyth University’s commitment to gender equality has been given an extra boost with the announcement that two female scientists will be seconded to work, support and develop the Aberystwyth University and Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences’ (IBERS) applications for the Athena SWAN Bronze awards in April 2014.

The Athena Swan Charter recognises and celebrates good practice on recruiting, retaining and promoting women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) in higher education and has become increasingly important to Higher Education Institutions and Research Councils in the UK.

Dr Rachel Horsley, a senior lecturer in Psychology in the Institute of Human Sciences, and Dr Pip Nicholas, a Principal Investigator at IBERS with a strong interest in sustainable and organic farming systems, will both work towards making tangible progress towards a better working environment and helping to overcome the challenges facing women at Aberystwyth.

Dr Nicholas, one of the Athena SWAN  Diversity Champions, explains “We are finding that women are under-represented in science, especially in more senior roles. We want to start changing this cycle by understanding why this might be and what could be done to help women reach their full potential in the workplace.”

Dr Horsley adds, “Athena SWAN focuses on women in science, but we are conscious that we need to support and promote career opportunities for all staff in both academic and service departments at Aberystwyth University. Science cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population.”

Aberystwyth’s determination to achieve the required awards is reflected in these two secondments who will each be working on the project for one day a week over the next year. 

Professor Kate Bullen, Director of Institute of Human Sciences and Athena SWAN lead, commented, “Both Diversity Champions have excellent research and academic credentials as scientists and a real passion and commitment to the support of women in science.

“Aberystwyth is deeply committed to supporting equality of opportunity for all and women in leadership are an aspect of equal opportunity development that we are determined to enhance.” 

Alongside the Athena Swan application, Aberystwyth University is also applying for the Equality Challenge Unit Gender Equality Chartermark (GEM) which is for academic staff, professional and support staff, HR departments, equality and diversity practitioners.