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Mathematics and ISG advance gender equality through Athena SWAN Bronze Award

Mathematics and ISG advance gender equality through Athena SWAN Bronze Award

  • Date15 October 2020

The Department of Mathematics and the Information Security Group (ISG) have won a Bronze Athena SWAN award recognising their commitment and excellence in the advancement of gender equality. The award was announced today, (15 October 2020) by Advance HE.

Athena SWAN Bronze Award logo

The latest award brings the total of Athena SWAN award winning departments at Royal Holloway up to seven.

The award acknowledges the impact of collaborative efforts to support the development of equality, diversity and inclusion measures. The submission had significant backing across Maths and ISG and was driven by quantitative data from staff and student surveys, and extensive qualitative interviews with staff members and PhD students which were conducted by the College's Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator, Dr Katerina Finnis. As a result, colleagues across the two departments have pledged their support for actions in the detailed Action Plan, which has 56 individually agreed actions that will promote gender equality and help eliminate all discrimination.

These actions range from a challenging workshop on unconscious bias led by an external speaker, and the creation of a new role of 'Early Career Advisor', to detailed plans to increase the number of women applicants for academic positions.

The Athena SWAN submission was led by Professor Mark Wildon, Equality and Diversity Champion for Mathematics and ISG and joint Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Director for the School of Engineering, Physical and Mathematical Sciences at Royal Holloway.

Professor Wildon commented,

“I am delighted that the hard work by all involved has been recognised by Advance HE and this award reflects our commitment to putting equality and diversity inclusivity at the heart of everything we do. I look forward to working with colleagues to implement our Action Plan. The risk that Covid-19 amplifies existing inequalities in society makes this more important than ever.”

He added,

“Among our first new actions is a session we ran in induction week in September for all new EPMS students on ‘Why we need to talk about Equality and Diversity',  highlighting the Black Lives Matter campaign, unconscious bias, and the nine protected characteristics, with an accompanying video which has already attracted high viewings.”

The departments of Maths and ISG are also linked by a group of staff and students, WISDOM (Women in the Security and/or Mathematics Domain), previous winners of an Enhancing Fairness Award. The group offers a support network and fosters an inclusive environment in which a high proportion of women can be encouraged into the fields of Information Security and Maths.

Deputy Principal of Royal Holloway, Professor Katie Normington said,

“I am delighted that the innovative work that Maths and ISG have been doing around their WISDOM group to encourage women’s participation and progression and their other initiatives have been rewarded with the Athena SWAN Bronze award.”

A key action on the horizon is a London Mathematical Society sponsored meeting ‘Engaging students from diverse backgrounds unprepared for university study’,  due to be held in Summer 2021, co-organised by Professors  Stefanie Gerke and Mark Wildon.


Focusing on gender equality across departments

Royal Holloway is committed to the aims and principles of Athena SWAN and the majority of Royal Holloway’s STEMM departments hold Athena SWAN awards. This recognises the good practice and principles of equality which are firmly established in our ethos, and reflects the College’s original foundation in 1849 (Bedford College) and 1886 (Royal Holloway College) as among the first institutions offering higher education for women.

Athena SWAN Awards were established to promote and reward good employment practice in the recruitment, retention and progression of female academics in all disciplines. The Charter is now being used across the globe to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

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