A group taking part in a sharing and listening exercise

Foreword

As part of the Faculty’s Athena SWAN team (SAT) communication plan, we will be sharing monthly blogs written by members of the SAT. Thank you Maria for sharing the first such blog of 2020.

Kerry Jordan-Daus

Faculty of Education

Athena SWAN Lead

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The purpose of this blog is to reflect on my understanding of the Athena SWAN and the Faculty Plan and why this is important for me. The Athena Swan Charter (2005), was initially established to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing both the careers, and employment in higher education and research of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM). Since May 2015 this charter has evolved to recognise the work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.  

I initially volunteered to become part of the Faculty Athena SWAN Self-Assessment-Team (SAT), with the understanding that it was a project concerned with inclusive practice. I have since learnt that it relates specifically to gender equality.  I imagine that this could have far reaching implications in terms of exploring the Faculty’s culture and commitment to equality and inclusive practice.  As the Programme Director for the BA Primary Education Part-time route, I have seen the impact of flexible learning and flexible working for many of our students. I am committed to widening participation and enabling those who cannot access full-time study achieve their professional goals and achieve qualified teacher status through part-time and flexible study. 

In our first team meeting in December, the SAT learnt about the background and status at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) of Athena SWAN.  We already hold the institutional Athena SWAN Bronze Award (November 2016). The University goal is to progress to the institutional Silver Award. Before this can progress, all the Faculties/Schools need to have achieved at least Bronze.  Achieving Bronze requires a review against a series of criteria and the development of an action plan. As we embark on the Faculty’s plan, to submit for our Faculty Bronze award, I see this as an opportunity to celebrate inclusive practice. I am looking forward to learning more about the Faculty and how we can build on where we are; this is must be a listening project. For our plan to mean anything, in my opinion, it must be a true representation of the voices, views and actions of colleagues within the Faculty. 

At the initial meeting of the SAT working group on Tuesday December 10th 2019, there were discussions that arose from, and are perhaps inexplicably linked to inclusion and gender equality. These quite naturally included the reference to the staff profile of both the Faculty, and wider university. Currently, Bronze Award does not explicitly include professional services staff. We think this is unfortunate, but with Shelley McAuley, Faculty Manager, Operations and Quality, we are committed to including all colleagues’ voices going forward.  

The Faculty’s SAT represents a wide group of colleagues, who bring to the team different experiences and different ways of working and different personal perspectives. Whilst the SAT will be using key data sets, they have also agreed to hold focus group discussions. This affirms our commitment to the Faculty’s Athena Swan plan being based on staff voice. This is our listening project. I look forward to meeting and talking to colleagues as we move forward. 

Maria Elsam

Senior Lecturer – Primary Education (Science), Programme Director – BA Hons Primary (part-time)

Further reading

Athena Swan Charter

Athena Swan at Christ Church