Athena SWAN University Bronze award



Heriot-Watt has been successful in renewing its Athena SWAN University Bronze award, recognising our continuing commitment to gender equality in higher education.

I'm delighted that we can continue our progress and contribute to realising equality of opportunity in higher education.

Professor Richard A Williams

The award comes as a result of sustained efforts from 2013 - 2016 to progress our gender equality ambitions. Positive initiatives the University has undertaken include:

  • Supporting our Schools to consider their discipline-specific challenges
  • Unconscious bias training for 130 senior staff
  • Requirement for gender diversity on recruitment panels
  • Annual promotions roadshow
  • Support to apply for promotion whilst on maternity leave
  • Training for managers on supporting flexible working
  • The creation of a dedicated breastfeeding room to support people to return to work when they wish
  • Proactive efforts to improve diversity on university boards and committees
  • Targeted outreach activities to encourage women into STEM

Our efforts are paying off and we are beginning to see impact. For example:

  • All of our STEM schools have an Athena SWAN Bronze award of their own demonstrating that they understand their local challenges and are addressing them
  • 80% of our UK staff are hosted by an Athena SWAN award-winning school
  • 3% increase (from 27 to 30% female) in the gender balance of our academic community
  • 6% increase in female promotion rate
  • 100% of flexible working requests were agreed in 2016
  • University Court now has a 50:50 gender balance

To apply for the renewal of our award, over a period of 12 months, a dedicated group of staff and students undertook an in-depth self-assessment, gathering and analysing a host of information to determine Heriot-Watt's progress towards equality of opportunity, and to identify next steps.

Robust and sustained improvement

The resulting action plan will be delivered by 2020, when the University hopes to be in a position to apply for a Silver award. To attain a Silver award Heriot-Watt must demonstrate robust and sustained improvement in the recruitment, retention and progression of women in higher education.

Professor Gillian Hogg, Deputy Principal (Staff Development and Engagement), said, “The awarding panel commended our progress since 2013, and our ambitious plans for the future. Work has already begun on delivering new interventions that will enhance opportunity and strengthen the university's community.”

University Principal Professor Richard A Williams said, “This is the best news possible. I'm delighted that we can continue our progress and contribute to realising equality of opportunity in higher education.”