Gender equality at Heriot-Watt: Can you make a difference?



Heriot-Watt is committed to building a flourishing community by promoting equality and diversity in all its forms across our locations.  One of the ways we are doing this is via engaging with Athena SWAN, a UK-based initiative addressing gender inequality in Higher Education.

The University's Athena SWAN Bronze award is due for renewal in November 2020. We invite interested people to come forward to join the Athena SWAN Strategy Committee.

What does participation involve?  Between now and November 2020 the University will undertake a self-assessment exercise. The committee will:

  • Review gender trends in staff and student data,
  • consider employee experiences as reported via the staff survey and focus groups, and
  • benchmark against good practice.

Self-assessment allows us to identify any barriers to gender equality and diagnose the reason for it. We can then seek to remedy the matter. The outcome of the self-assessment process will be our University 2020 Athena SWAN application including an action plan for change to be delivered between 2020 and 2024.

The estimated time commitment for ASSC members is 3 working days between now and November 2020 (bimonthly meetings and some themed workshops). The University Executive has endorsed the plan for the renewal project and Heads of School/Directors will be asked to factor this time into workload.

We want the Strategy Committee's membership to be as diverse as possible, including employees from different backgrounds with different work and life experiences. If you think you would add value please get in touch with by 31st October.

Why Athena SWAN?

Engaging with Athena SWAN creates a better working environment for all staff.  Recent initiatives include:

  • Mary Burton scholarships for female STEM students
  • Use of gender decoder to remove gendered language from job adverts
  • Recruitment training revised to include improved equality and diversity content
  • Expenses policy amended to include childcare/adultcare as an eligible cost
  • Academic promotions process amended to including consideration of special circumstances e.g. part-time working, maternity/paternity leave
  • Celebrating successful academic promotions to showcase diverse role models
  • Case studies developed to improve awareness of HWU support for work life balance.