The Chair welcomed the new group and explained that the group had been brought together through a merger of the original 50:50 group and the University Athena SWAN self-assessment team. The Chair invited the team members to introduce themselves and their roles:
Sandy Kutty is the Executive Assistant to the Director of the Division of Surgery, and was the administrative lead for the department’s Athena SWAN application
Eleanor Day is the Faculty Officer for the Faculty of Population Health Sciences, and is also the new Faculty SWAN lead for FPHS
Emma Todd is the Faculty Communications Manager for the Bartlett, the new Faculty SWAN lead for the Built Environment and also helps to run and coordinate Astrea – a network for women in professional services
Nigel Waugh is the HR Director
Geraint Rees is a Professor in Psychology and Language Sciences, and the Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, he is also the Faculty SWAN lead for the Faculty of Brain Sciences
Gesine Manuwald is the Head of Department of Greek and Latin, and is also leading on Greek and Latin’s application for the new Gender Charter Mark (GEM) pilot for arts, humanities and social sciences.
Sarah Guise is the Head of Equalities and Diversity at UCL
Harriet Jones is the Policy Adviser for Athena SWAN at UCL
Madiha Sajid is a Course Administrator in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, and is coordinating the new parents and carers network
Charlotte Lemanski is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography, and a former member of the 50:50 group
Annette Dolphin is a Professor in the Division of Biosciences, the Faculty SWAN lead for the Faculty of Life Sciences, the former co-Chair of the 50:50 group
Liora Malki-Epshtein is a Lecturer in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomantic Engineering
Sally Day is a Senior Lecturer in Electronic and Electrical Engineering, and is the Faculty SWAN lead for Engineering, having previously put together a faculty-level Silver SWAN application.
Michael Arthur is the President and Provost at UCL. Provost added that equalities and diversity was a prominent feature at his interview, and that he takes it very seriously.
The Chair noted that equality targets across UCL should be ambitious but also realistic and achievable within set timeframes. Overambitious targets could lead to staff feeling disillusioned if a target was not met. There are some restrictions in how quickly a gender balance could be achieved given the low turnover of senior academics at UCL, however the focus on culture of the institution needs to change in order to make progress – and this should be a key aim and focus of the 50:50 group.
It was agreed that there is a need to move away from an exclusive focus on statistical data, and that the focus should be broadened to include consideration of the culture of the institution, and the barriers faced by women moving through the pipeline and being promoted at UCL. The group should work to identify these barriers and suggest solutions to these issues, for example how leadership roles can become more attractive to female applicants, and how women can be encouraged to apply for such posts. UCL has invested in leadership programmes over the last 3 years but more can be done.
SG noted that while Athena SWAN is a charter for women in STEMM, it indirectly affects everyone at UCL. Much of the university Bronze application focuses on universal issues such as childcare provision, appraisals, promotions and support available for parents and carers. All these provisions are available to staff across UCL.
Progress has been made over the last 18 months:
The UCL wide Bronze submission was successful
There are currently 3 Bronze departmental awards and 1 Juno Practitioner award (equivalent to a SWAN Bronze award)
There are also 9 Silver departmental awards across UCL
11 Departments applied for awards in November, and we are awaiting the results (to be announced in April/May 2014) – this included 1 Silver renewal, 2 Bronze and 8 Silver applications
A further 8 departments are planning to submit for an award in 2014 – 8 Silver, 1 Juno Champion (equivalent to SWAN Silver), 2 Silver renewals and 2 Bronze applications
If all applications from the November submissions are successful, 58% of UCL STEMM departments will hold an Athena SWAN award – this is crucial as a university has to have a majority of departments holding an award before they can apply for a Silver university award.
Since the university bronze application in 2012, several actions have been put in place and achieved:
Require all recruitment panels to comprise at least 25% women
Encouraging participation in Springboard, and funding places on the Aurora programme – 6 people have been funded to take part in Aurora this year from UCL
Develop an online mentoring platform – uMentor was launched this year
Ensure equality and diversity is included in job descriptions for Provost, Vice-Provost, and Dean vacancies
Faculty E&D action plans – this is part of the new Accountability Framework, where Deans are held to account by SMT for their work on equality
UCL paid paternity leave has been doubled from 2 weeks to 4 weeks, which is the best in the sector
A circle of career advisers are being established in each Faculty
A project is being planned to look at the turnover of men and women at UCL, and to improve the exit interview/survey process
Head-hunters are now required to provide a diverse list
NW noted that SMT are hoping to compile a ‘preferred supplier list’ of executive search firms. Firms on the list will have to be signed up to the 30% club or give a similar commitment.
JM noted that the idea came from the business sector – search firms need to provide a diverse long list including 30% female applicants. If this target is not achieved, they have to meet with the company to explain why.
The Chair noted that this is currently working at UCL – for example, during a recent recruitment exercise, SMT were not happy with the diversity of the first list provided so the search firm in question were asked to produce a new list, which resulted in SMT identifying more women for the short list.
There are also some actions outstanding from the Bronze action plan:
A workforce model was planned to assess turnover and recruitment rates – this would allow the group to establish realistic targets in relation to gender balance at different grades across the institution in the future
SLMS currently have annual appraisals, feedback from SWAN was that this should be extended to other faculties across UCL
UCL committed to creating a fund for parents to cover the cost of childcare during conference attendance
It was also suggested that this provision should be extended to students. There is a fund for PhD students to cover the cost of conference attendance, and childcare costs could be included in this system.
SG also noted that there had been progress made that had not been planned as part of the University Bronze application:
UCL women – a network for women in STEMM
Astrea – a network for women in professional services
GEM – the new gender charter mark for non-STEMM departments, UCL is part of the pilot (Greek and Latin)
NW noted that childcare provision is due to be reviewed across UCL: an external consultancy firm will review the current provision as well as arrangements across other large London based employers and suggest alternatives and improvements. It will also consider the geographical issue faced by UCL staff, and assess if staff would prefer childcare based in central London, or whether there are other options available to provide childcare in other locations.
The Chair noted that there was a mistake in the UCL Bronze application – gender balance of SMT is represented as a ratio rather than 3 of 18 total members.
Action: HJ to update Athena SWAN bronze application on
the UCL website to reflect actual gender balance of SMT.
In response to a query about the support needed from the group to help with the implementation of the action plan, SG explained that the role of the group was to review the action plan and to ensure UCL made progress, as well as helping the Equalities Team produce and prepare the next UCL Silver application. An update on outstanding actions would be presented at the next meeting.
Action: SG to prepare an update on progress of the
Bronze Action Plan for the next meeting.
Action: 50:50 group members to make suggestions for initiatives
to enhance the university Silver Athena SWAN application.
The Chair raised the issue of appraisals and promotion at UCL, and questioned whether the process should be reviewed. He suggested that a yearly promotions process does not support women’s promotion and progression – a yearly process encourages a sense of competition, which might be a disincentive to some applicants.
SG noted that there was a ‘promotions work stream’ planned as part of the bronze action plan, but this had not yet been established. She suggested that the 50:50 group could take on this responsibility.
ET asked whether any review would include Professional Services staff and the process of regrading. The Chair agreed that this issue should be included within the review. NW noted that this is being looked at, and there will be ongoing negotiations with the unions.
NW noted that Human Resources Policy Committee had recently approved a review of academic promotions policy and procedures. This review will include a focus on improving the esteem given to teaching. Some departments review all their staff annually for eligibility for promotion. The review will consider whether this process should become a requirement across the institution, and also consider whether promotions should take place annually or on a rolling basis. The review should also take into account the impact of the current policy and procedure on equality and diversity outcomes. NW suggested that the 50:50 group should be involved in this process as an advisory body.
JM noted that encouraging honest and open discussions that fed into career development should be a key part of appraisal. However she noted that this is still difficult in an academic environment – some academics confuse appraisal with performance management, and they feel this affects their academic freedom.
The Chair said that there should be no link made between academic freedom and performance. A useful discussion on progression does not affect academic freedom.
JM also noted the importance of appraisers being properly trained. NW said that compliance with training requirements is an issue
RM noted that the Faculty of MAPS are currently moving to an annual process, and appraisers are being trained
The Chair noted that appraisals every 2 years was not good enough, and that a move to consistent annual appraisal would be likely to have an impact on gender equality
AD asked who would act as an appraiser in a big department as annual appraisals would double workload. NW said that this would be looked at as part of the review process. The Chair suggested that in each department, a group of people would be identified as appraisers – the number of appraisers would depend on the size of the department to make workload fair.
SG noted that issues surrounding systems such as promotion and appraisal are crucial to the University Silver Athena SWAN silver application.
The Chair asked NW what the group needed to do to ensure the promotions process was reviewed, and that regarding is also considered within this process. NW said that the group should propose recommendations to HR Policy Committee who can make decisions to update UCL policy.
The Chair suggested that the issue of promotion should be a key agenda item for the 50:50 group
LM asked how the review will take teaching into account. The Chair said that this is something he views to be important – and has made it clear that an important focus for UCL going forward will be the link between excellent research and excellent teaching. The promotions review will need to reflect this. The suggested new criteria for promotion will be around 4 key areas – research, teaching, enterprise and leadership. Applicants will need to show excellence in two areas, and a minimum requirement in the others. He noted it is important the staff have input into these criteria.
The Chair noted that he was part of the major review of promotions at Leeds – this process took 4 years but was a success.
Action: NW to update the group on Promotion review progress,
and arrange to provide the group with an opportunity
to provide input when the review is underway.
The Chair also noted that there is a lack of women applying for senior roles, and asked whether enough actions were in place to address this issue.
AD noted that there is an awareness that taking on leadership roles will affect the time that can be given to research – she suggested that this may be one of the issues putting women off applying
The Chair agreed, but said that this was a common conversation he had with academics, regardless of gender. This issue should be managed and staff who take on leadership roles should be supported.
Leading on Athena SWAN
JM discussed her role as academic lead for Athena SWAN in SLMS in order to explain the role and advise the new Faculty SWAN leads (all of whom have ex-oficio posts on the 50:50 group).
JM has been acting as academic lead for Athena SWAN in SLMS for the last 18 months. The major part of her role was to support and encourage Heads of Departments to take the SWAN process seriously, to show leadership and to understand the need for Athena SWAN.
The connection between Athena SWAN and NIHR funding was obviously a key driver in SLMS, but JM has also been explaining the other key reasons why gender equality is so crucial to departments. Her main argument being there is a huge loss of talent leaving academia.
JM explained that she based her arguments and advice on academic research and from research in the business sector, and suggested that the new Faculty SWAN leads should do the same.
A key report JM referred to is the 2012 McKinsey Women Matter report http://www.mckinsey.com/features/women_matter. This report looked into companies who had the best gender balance in senior management, these companies also happen to be some of the highest performing companies. Three key themes are outlined in this report:
Leadership. It is important for those in leadership roles to set stretching objectives, with plans for how success will be measured. This is why JM encourages HoDs to show leadership on gender equality. She never speaks on their behalf – but has sometimes coached them.
Supportive working practices. These include, for example, flexible working policies and a supportive working culture
Female-targeted development programmes. This can provide the extra support needed to redress the current imbalance. This includes sponsorship – giving women stretching projects to help them progress and develop their career.
The Chair agreed that leadership and sponsorship are crucial – but asked whether sponsorship should come from those in leadership positions or whether it can come from others. JM gave her own example and noted that encouragement from 2 female colleagues was extremely important when considering an application and said this is why networks such as UCL Women and Astrea are important.
JM suggested that the new SWAN leads should focus on creating working relationships with HoDs, to communicate with the SWAN leads in each department, to review applications if required, to share information across the Faculty and to the 50:50 group, and to suggest new ideas to Departments.
SG noted GR has been working as the de facto Faculty Lead in Brain Sciences for the last year – he has been meeting with departmental SWAN leads once or twice a term.
Action: HJ to arrange meeting with all new Faculty SWAN leads
to discuss their role further and to share ideas
It was noted that the statistics do not always tell the whole story – they do not explain what it feels like to be a female academic at UCL. HJ noted that she had disaggregated the staff survey data by staff group (research, academic and professional services) and by gender, and there were some differences between staff groups – she suggested presenting this data at the next meeting.
Action: HJ to prepare a presentation on the staff survey
results by gender for the next meeting
Potential gender bias in fellowships
AD presented her paper on ‘dealing with the potential gender bias inherent in the fellowships route into a tenure-track academic position’. AD suggested that there is an issue in the number of men and women obtaining a fellowship which can lead to a permanent UCL position. There were more male fellows entered to Biological Sciences from UCL than women in the REF2014.
AD suggested that HoDs should be aware of this potential gender bias, and avoid identifying fellows via the ‘old boys’ network’.
AD also suggested the possibility of using open calls for fellowship positions – this is currently done in UCL’s MRC Lab for Molecular Cell Biology, and also for the UCL Excellence Fellowships – the awards for Excellence Fellowships has a better gender balance.
SD identified this issue as an example where sponsorship is key – she suggested encouraging current female post docs to apply for fellowships. She also noted that it is important to encourage excellent female scientists from outside of UCL to apply for a fellowship.
The Chair suggested that it would be useful to see the data presented in the paper for the whole of UCL.
Action: gender balance of fellows entered to the REF2014
to be presented for all UCL faculties at the next meeting
The Chair also suggested that it would be useful to be able to identify which fellows at UCL have previously been UCL students or post docs, and the proportion of fellows who applied from outside of UCL
Action: gender balance of fellows applying from UCL
and externally to be presented at the next meeting
There was a discussion as to whether fellowships guaranteed a permanent UCL contract. NW explained that workers on fixed term contracts accrue more rights after 2 years with the same employer e.g. to make an unfair dismissal claim, but that this is not the same being made permanent. It was agreed it would also be useful to present the data on how many fellows stay on at UCL on a permanent contract.
Action: gender balance of fellows who stay at UCL on permanent
contracts to be presented at the next meeting.
HJ presented ideas for future meetings to the group and asked for further comments and suggestions. The ideas had been based on discussions with UCL departments and discussions with other Russell Group Universities. The ideas included:
Review of childcare. This had been discussed earlier in the meeting, and NW had agreed to keep the 50:50 group up to date with progress of the external review of childcare at UCL.
MS asked whether this review could also include how parents with children in schools could be supported – especially during the school holidays.
Action: NW to ensure parents with school-age children
are considered in the upcoming childcare review.
Resolve issues around maternity leave for researchers and PhD students. While some funders pay the cost of maternity leave, others do not. This is an issue in departments as it is unclear how the cost of maternity pay or maternity cover will be met, this in turn deters people from recruiting female researchers ‘of child bearing age’.
At a previous 50:50 meeting Andrew Clark, Director of Research Planning, suggested that a report could be commissioned to look into the gender balance of those applying for funding and fellowships at UCL, those who are successful and the amounts awarded. Research evidence suggests women are less likely to apply for funding, and are often awarded smaller amounts. If this is the case at UCL, further support could be provided through the grant writing process.
Include Athena SWAN as an example of an enabling activity in the promotions criteria. The group and Chair agreed that this should be done soon.
Action: to add ‘undertaking a leading role in a department’s work on
Athena SWAN’ as an example of an enabling role for promotion.
Annual appraisals expected across UCL, not just in SLMS.
Provide one Daphne Jackson fellowship in each faculty, or a similar scheme, to support women’s progression into a permanent academic post (similar to Nottingham’s Anne McLaren Fellowship).
The group also suggested adding specific consideration and actions for non-STEMM departments and Professional Services staff
The group discussed whether there would be a way to use the Athena SWAN process to ensure work is done on gender equality across non-STEMM departments and for those in professional services roles. Thus, UCL could produce its own kite mark for gender equality to include all staff groups.
NW noted that this should be the purpose of the accountability framework – Deans are held to account on their work on gender equality - and