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School of Biological Sciences Retain Athena SWAN Gold Award for Excellence in Gender Equality

Congratulations to the School of Biological Sciences who have been awarded a prestigious Athena SWAN Gold award, in recognition of its outstanding progress promoting gender equality & addressing the unequal representation of women in science

Members of staff from the school of Biological Sciences collecting their Athena Swan Gold Award

The School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s are the first biology school in the UK to renew their Gold Award and the second ever school to renew. Only 8 schools across the UK hold Athena SWAN Gold Awards, including those who have renewed.

The School previously achieved this accolade in 2013, and at the time were the first School of Biological Sciences in the UK to receive this outstanding recognition, with Queen’s becoming one of only three UK universities to hold a Gold departmental award.

“We are absolutely delighted and very proud to have received the prestigious Athena SWAN Gold award for a second time. This achievement depends on both our academic excellence and the sincere commitment we have given to promoting gender equality.  We are driven to continue the good work we have started in this area as we tackle both gender and diversity issues.”

Dr John McGrath, Acting Head of School of Biological Sciences


What is Athena SWAN?

The Equality Challenge Units Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.  Queen’s University Belfast, was a founder member of the Athena SWAN Charter.

In May 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students.

The Athena SWAN Charter covers women (and men where appropriate) in:

  • Academic roles in STEMM and AHSSBL
  • Professional and support staff
  • Trans staff and students

In relation to their:

  • Representation
  • Progression of students into academia
  • Journey through career milestones
  • Working environment for all staff


Why does it matter?

The advancement of science, engineering and technology is fundamental to quality of life across the globe. It is vitally important that women are adequately represented in what has traditionally been, and is still, a male-dominated area. Moreover, science cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population.

Read more about the School of Biological Sciences SWAN Committee