Engineering Gender Equality

8 September 2011

UCL’s Department of Biochemical Engineering has recently been awarded a prestigious Athena SWAN Silver award for progressing gender equality.

Athena SWAN awards are given in recognition of a department’s commitment to recruit, retain and advance the careers of women academics and researchers in science, engineering and technology (SET) disciplines. The Department of Biochemical Engineering has been particularly commended for:

  • its proactive and innovative approach to female student recruitment
  • the highly positive and inclusive culture within the Department
  • the level of awareness and dedication exhibited by all staff to addressing the obstacles female academics in science and engineering face.

Dr Martina Micheletti, a lecturer in microscale bioprocessing and fluid flow, is the SWAN Co-ordinator for the department and leader of the enthusiastic team who prepared material for the submission. She said of the experience: “We feel our knowledge of the department has significantly increased, and are eager to drive forward the many creative initiatives stemming from the process. I see SWAN as an opportunity for departments to promote the careers of talented women, through inclusive working practices.”

Their work was judged to be of such a high standard that the department has been encouraged to apply for a Gold award in the future.

Professor Nigel Titcher-Hooker, Head of the Department of Biochemical Engineering said; “As a new Head of Department I have recognised that more can always be done to encourage a family-friendly and accepting culture. New modes of working have been adopted within our department and the benefits for all are becoming very clear. There is more to do, but the most striking message is that our female staff feel empowered and are supported to achieve their full potential.”

UCL President and Provost, Professor Malcolm Grant added “UCL now holds 5 Athena SWAN Silver awards and I am delighted that Biochemical Engineering has become the latest Department to accomplish this honour. The award process is extremely competitive so I congratulate them on their hard work in putting together an excellent submission. There is no simple solution to improve the representation of women in science, engineering and technology. The Department of Biochemical Engineering has shown, however, that having the will to try a variety of initiatives can make a real difference.”

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