The School of Psychology Equality Committee (SPEC) is the School of Psychology’s body for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and provides a forum for discussing, developing and implementing EDI best practice. A large part of our work recently has been focussed on engaging with the Athena SWAN Charter; a framework which is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within HE and research. Established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment, the charter is now being used internationally to address gender equality more broadly. Within our School, we have been mindful that gender is not a binary concept, and have successfully implemented a large number of policies and practices that help to provide recognition and equality of opportunity for individuals of all gender identities.

These include;

Supporting Everyone

  • Creation of Equality & Diversity Champion, LGBTQI+ Champion, Parent/Carer Champion, Mental Health Champion Roles as the first port of call for anyone who feels they are being treated differently or unfairly specifically because of one of their identities or their membership of a particular social group
  • Provision of Gender Neutral Toilets within the Sarah Swift Building
  • Provision of a bookable private space (with dedicated fridge and microwave) for those needing to breastfeed or express breast milk and baby changing facilities within the Sarah Swift Building
  • Gender demographic policy to ensure that everyone can accurately express their own gender identity – now adopted as a University Policy
  • ‘Caught Short’ Boxes for students and staff in accessible places around the department, and information disseminated in tutorials
  • Research Seminars moved to a more convenient time for both staff and students
  • Gender balance of External Speakers (and hosts) monitored to ensure balance
  • SPEC Lead sits on Senior Executive Group to advise on EDI issues
  • EDI as a standing item on agenda for School Meetings and Away Days

Supporting Students

  • SPEC has been expanded to include more students at postgraduate and undergraduate levels
  • A full review of our assessment and marking practices has been carried out to ensure fairness and transparency, and anonymous marking has been implemented
  • We are continually working with timetabling to try and ensure core lectures are within hours 10-4
  • Development of the Student Advisor and the Mental Health Champion Roles
  • ‘My pronouns are’ badges for students in tutorials and small-group teaching
  • Highlighted difficulties students had in changing legal names on official documents
  • Embedding of EDI principles throughout the Psychology curriculum

Supporting Staff

  • Revision of the Psychology Workload Model to ensure EDI principles are embedded
  • Staff returning from long-term leave now have automatically increased research time, along with reduced teaching and administrative duties for the first 2 years
  • Development of the Career Development Advisory Committee to give advice to those seeking promotion, as well as help identify those who may be eligible but less likely to put themselves forward
  • Focus Groups conducted with staff to explore issues related to promotions
  • Adoption of an exit questionnaire to ascertain why staff leave, as well as a retention questionnaire to explore why our staff stay
  • Staff Mentoring Program reviewed, and Mentoring (Environment/Teaching/Research) now recognised and included in the Workload Model
  • Parenting Peers Program for Staff with new children (soon to be offered to students as well)
  • Useful Information Page on SPEC Website, to act as a Staff Handbook
  • Review of all recruitment advertisements and hiring procedures for the past five years, to identify equality-related issues, and with recommendations made for future recruitment
  • Fixed-Term Contract Staff to now have Academic Development Appraisals and encouraged to develop Individual Research Plans
  • FTC Staff now have ring-fenced research facilitation budget (previously only available to Permanent Staff)
  • Prominent Role Reviews conducted every 12 months to monitor gender balance on decision-making committees and within managerial roles
  • Development of School Role Rotation policy
  • All admin roles now advertised along with a role descriptor and workload, with expressions of interest to be submitted
  • Compilation of a ‘Dates to Avoid’ list and calendar so that Staff can avoid scheduling important meetings during School Holidays, or other dates when parents may be less able to atten

Our Athena SWAN Silver Award is the culmination of a huge amount of effort from all of our staff and we are incredibly pleased and proud of this result. Given that the current global situation has itself brought issues of equality, diversity and inclusion into the spotlight, we intend to continue building upon our success to embrace the broader intersectionality of issues that our staff and students face, and ensure that we provide a supportive environment for everyone.