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Athena SWAN

What is Athena SWAN?

Athena SWAN (AS) is a charter to promote fairness in the University sector in terms of gender equality.  More information is available below but in brief, AS provides a structure to help Universities address gender bias and to create a positive environment for all.  AS issues will soon be dealt with under the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives.

How does it work?

There are 3 categories that can be applied for. 

Bronze: Identify problems based on quantitative and qualitative analysis.  Identify and implement solutions.  Embed AS into School of Biochemistry and Immunology (SOBI) activities.

Silver: Demonstrate good practices and the impact of changes implemented using evidence and measurable effects.  Future planning.

Gold:  Serves as a role model in the discipline, College and beyond.

Building upon the College’s Bronze Award, all Schools are now asked to submit applications to AS for School awards. The College is required to have a Silver Award by the end of 2023 in order for staff to apply for funding from Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council and the Health Research Board. The majority of the College’s 24 Schools must have a Bronze award in order for the College to apply for Silver.

What are we doing right now?

SOBI are currently applying for a Bronze award.  The application is due at the end of June 2021 with an internal deadline of end April 2021.  As part of this, we have already carried out surveys and focus group discussions.  If you have any queries on the process or would like to become more actively involved please E-mail either Darren ( or Nóirín (

What can you do?

Participate when asked.  Fairness is an issue for all.  Let’s work together on this.

Why bother?

Apart from the fact that it is a socially responsible thing to do, there is a well-recognised and documented problem in terms of female recruitment and retention in academic posts.  Given that most of our undergraduate students in SOBI are female, we have an obligation to identify potential barriers they might encounter on the road to an academic/research career in the SOBI.  We also want to create a more fiar environment for those further along their respective career track in SOBI.  Finally, many grant authorities are now making a bronze star mandatory for a Department, for a PI to submit a grant application for funding.

What groups are we focussing on?

We are primarily focussing on 4 key groups for this application.  These are:

  1. Ph.D. students
  2. Post-doctoral researchers
  3. Professional and Support Staff (PSS; admin, technical and some research)
  4. Academic staff

Who is undertaking this?

The School is undertaking this under the direction of the Head of School.  There is a self-assessment team (SAT) convened with representation from all of the key groups.  The SAT is chaired by Prof. Clair Gardiner. Key members include Nóirín Nic a’ Bháird and Darren Fayne who are part of the key organising committee. The full SAT membership is given below:

Athena SWAN SAT:

Chair: Clair Gardiner
Core committee: Nóirín Nic a’ Bháird and Darren Fayne
Head of School: Derek Nolan
Academic staff: Danny Zisterer, Ed Lavelle, Emma Creagh, Vincent Kelly
PSS staff: Úna Murphy
Postdoctoral researchers: Hugo Charles-Messance, Andreea Petasca
PhD candidates: Ross Ward, Caitlín Ní Chasaide

When will this be finished?

Although the form for Bronze award may be submitted in June, this is just the start of a process.  The SOBI realises the importance of embedding the principles of AS and EDI into our activities on an ongoing basis.  We look forward to working with you on this into the future.