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SWAN Silver Award

Athena SWAN Silver AwardIn July 2010 The School of Psychology was awarded a Silver Award by Athena SWAN in recognition of its good practice on recruiting, retaining and promoting women in SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) in higher education.


The School of Psychology has worked hard to ensure that it provides an inclusive and supportive environment all its staff and students. We are aware that many staff have family or caring responsibilities and have adopted policies to make the School a family-friendly place for staff to work in. Staff and students also differ in their cultural background and their sexual orientation, and we try to ensure that the School recognises and respects the diversity of its staff and students. The School has been awarded a Silver SWAN award by the ATHENA organisation in recognition of the progress it has made specifically towards supporting its female staff and students progress their careers as women in science.

Family friendly policies within the School and the University

  • The School has adopted a policy of providing a six-month teaching-free period following return from maternity/adoption leave or carer’s leave. This is to allow returning staff to quickly re-establish their research profile.
  • School meetings are timetabled within core business hours to allow staff to take children to school or nursery or to manage other family responsibilities.
  • School seminars are scheduled for lunchtimes rather than after-hours.
  • Social activities within the School are also scheduled to allow those with family responsibilities to attend for at least part of the time.
  • Flexible or part-time working is facilitated wherever possible, and a number of senior academic staff have taken up part-time contracts.
  • The University provides a number of services for children, including the university crèche, an after-school club, a summer holiday activity scheme, and a programme of children’s classes at the Physical Education Centre.

Additional support for women

  • The Queen’s Gender Initiative provides a one-to-one mentoring support service for all women in the University, and women in the School are encouraged to take part in the scheme.
  • The Queen’s Gender Initiative also provides an annual promotions seminar for women, and a drop-in service for women considering applying for promotion. The Gender Initiative also organises a number of networking and training activities for women throughout the year.
  • All new junior staff to the School are appointed a mentor within the School who they meet regularly throughout their probation period.
  • The School has established a post-doctoral advisor, who is a member of professional staff who meets with PDRAs regularly to provide support and advice with regard to career development. PDRAs are encouraged to participate fully in the life of the School, and are welcome to attend the School Board meetings.
  • Senior women within the School provide an annual training session for female PDRAs and PhD students addressing issues to do with career development.
  • Women’s lunches are held every semester within the School, to which all women (including administrative staff and PhD students) are invited.

Role models within the School of Psychology

In recent years, the gender balance of senior staff within the School of Psychology has changed considerably. Our first ever female Head of School, Professor Evanthia Lyon, was appointed in 2011, and our second female Head of School, Professor Cathy Craig took over in 2012.  Both these Heads of School have been personally committed to supporting family-friendly policies and women’s careers within the School. For the first time in the School’s history, we also have as many female professors as male professors. Senior roles in the School are now more gender balanced as a result of having these female professors.  

Further information on the SWAN initiative can be found at

Research Report: Hidden Costs of Being a Female Academic

The School of Psychology commissioned a qualitative study to examine the experiences of female academics at a variety of career stages. The resulting report highlights some of the benefits that have been achieved as a result of the SWAN initiative in the School, but also identifies some potential "hidden costs" of being a female academic. This has allowed us to generate additional initiatives to support women in the School.

SWAN Research Report: Hidden Costs of Being a Female Academic