SWAN Champions

The following profiles are examples of the successes and ongoing work within the University of Bristol's STEMM departments in the achievement of Athena SWAN awards and gender related action.  These SWAN Champions highlight the continuing efforts within the University to progress womens academic careers in STEMM.


School of Physiology and Pharmacology

Dr Frankie MacMillan

Athena SWAN Lead Champion, School of Physiology and Pharmacology

Dr Frankie MacMillan


Since our Silver renewal in 2012, awareness and culture around gender issues has increased, as evidenced by good response rates in surveys and in initiatives such as ‘SWAN Career development sessions’. Feedback and data clearly demonstrate that activities since 2012 have continued to promote and impact on the success of female staff and students. In 2014, one of our female Professors became a significant role model, having been elected by the Science Council as one of the '100 Leading UK Practicing Scientists' for her contributions to Education. A number of initiatives introduced since our Silver Award in 2008 have continued to strengthen the support of women in the School. These include:

  1. An innovative maternity support package providing a comprehensive source of information and support for women before, during, and after maternity leave. We have put this in practice several times and those who have made use of our lab ‘babysitting’ policy and reduced workload on their return feel this has benefitted them enormously in maintaining their research output.

  2. The implementation of a series of '1:2' meetings for staff with Heads of School and Research.

  3. Introducing mentoring for women, at early stages in their careers considered to have the potential to take on influential management roles and encouraging women to take up University’s Leadership courses. This has fed directly into recent promotions of women in the School.

  4. Initiatives to investigate reasons why female students (both UG and PG) might be put off continuing careers in science, introducing qualitative monitoring methods to investigate this and developing ways of retaining this talent through Career development sessions and mentoring circles.

It is evident that the School continues to build on its strong ethos to provide a positive working environment developing new strategies contributing to the sector’s and the University’s aims of supporting women in science and technology.


School of Biological Sciences

Professor Seirian Sumner

Athena SWAN Lead, School of Biological Sciences

Professor Seirian Sumner



"Everyone at the School of Biological Sciences is delighted with our Athena SWAN Bronze award: we are deeply committed to tackling the barriers and challenges facing women in science, and the best place to make a difference here is on home patch. We see the award as an incredibly positive move for the School; the actions we have set ourselves are an excellent opportunity to engage all members, from undergraduate students to professors, in working together to help achieve equality in science."



School of Oral and Dental Sciences

Andrea Waylen PhD

Andrea Waylen PhD

Athena SWAN Lead, School of Oral and Dental Sciences


The School of Oral and Dental Sciences is committed to academic excellence and fairness and we work hard to ensure that the environment that we provide for our female staff is both supportive and flexible. Our success in achieving a silver Athena SWAN award assures us that we are on the right track and motivates us to continue our efforts to ensure fairness and equality for all who work within the School. Currently 51% of FTE staff are female but at senior lecturer level and above this figure is lower at 36%. This means that we have considerable room for progress and we certainly have more work to do! However we are developing  a pipeline of female staff who have an academic career and we are working hard to ensure that they, and all other eligible staff, are encouraged and supported to progress in their careers as appropriate to them.

We learnt that our application for a silver award was successful in April 2013 and attended the awards ceremony in Edinburgh in June 2013. Since then we have started to establish an ongoing Athena SWAN working group and several of our action points are in process. We are working to raise the awareness of SWAN principles within the School and also to improve networking opportunities for all staff generally and early career academic staff in particular. One way of doing this is through the development of an induction process in which training requirements and opportunities are publicised as well as the criteria for progression and promotion. We are also continuing to improve our data collection processes and are about to roll out an exit interview protocol for staff who are leaving.   

With regard to plans for the future, our intention is to continue to encourage and support academic women within the School and to ensure that we promote excellence and fairness in all aspects.  Our next application to Athena SWAN will be due in 2016. This will be either for renewal of the silver award or, if we are able to meet and exceed each of the steps detailed in our action plan then, who knows, we might just aim for gold!!


School of Experimental Psychology

Professor Jan Noyes

Head of School of Experimental Psychology

Professor Janet Noyes


"We are delighted to achieve the Athena SWAN bronze award, although it's really just the starting point - there is much more we can do to address gender inequalities in psychology and science more broadly. As a society and a nation, it's vital that we work harder to retain the talents of female scientists."