In 2013, the UKAEA Executive recognised the need to address the imbalance of female scientists and engineers at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy; its world-leading research laboratory. A working group was set up to improve gender diversity and work towards Athena SWAN accreditation.
UKAEA is now one of the 483 Athena SWAN award holders in the UK and one of 134 charter members. Athena SWAN recognises the commitment of advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) employment in higher education and research.
Joanne Flanagan, a diagnostic physicist and member of the UKAEA working group said:
Adopting the Athena SWAN charter and going for the Bronze award was a way of pushing ourselves to make the laboratory a better environment for everyone to work in. This should also result in us being able to recruit and retain more women in the future. And although we are thrilled to have achieved bronze, it is only a first step. We now need to maintain focus, fulfil our commitments, and move towards our next goal: a Silver award.
Steve Cowley, CEO, added:
This exercise has given us a much greater insight into the areas where we could improve, ensuring that new initiatives address genuine problem areas. The increase in publicity about gender equality and Athena SWAN has given managers and employees ‘permission’ to speak openly about the topic. I have been delighted by the universal enthusiasm.