Faculty of Health and Medicine Athena SWAN Action Plan (2018-2021)

Actions, success criteria and predicted outcomes pertaining to students, professional and support staff, academic staff and research staff. The rationale behind each action is contained within the full action plan. If you would like to be involved in any of the actions, then please contact the relevant lead for that action.

Our Action Plan provides a reflection of our progress to date and also further planned action. You can download the full Action Plan here, or read on below for a summary of actions, pertaining to different themes.



  • Develop and optimise strategies and processes to ensure equitable and transparent decision-making for all selection processes

    Continue to monitor the MMI process in the selection of medical students and explore whether any other demographic variables contribute to underperformance in males. Success criteria: Identification of specific gender/ethnicity-related issues in MMI process. Clear plan for how to address the issues identified implemented in 2019.

    Continue to monitor A-level achievement to assess whether the A-level reforms will have a longer-term effect on female performance. Success criteria: Clearer picture of whether there is a longer term effect to inform whether changes to selection process are required.

    Monitor the impact of recent BLS initiatives for PGT conversion (e.g. face-to-face or Skype conversations with all candidates with option to choose to speak to either female or male academics) and develop further strategies to increase the proportion of females on this course. Success criteria: Annual review of data with analysis of issues identified and recommendations of how to progress agreed by Teaching Committee.

    Embed monitoring of admissions by gender as routine for all programmes. Success criteria: Admissions reports incorporating equality measures as standard from Aug 2018. Issues identified and addressed in a timely manner. Clear policies and processes to deal with issues that arise.

    Introduce recruitment and conversion sessions incorporating EDI and unconscious bias training for Admissions Tutors. Success criteria: All Admissions Tutors have completed training by Oct 2020 and training included as routine for new staff involved with student recruitment.

    Predicted outcome: Greater assurance, through analysis of data, external review, and timely responses to rectify any issues identified, that selection processes are fair and transparent and decision-making is free from unconscious bias.

    Leads: Paul McKean (AD PG education) and Christine Shirras (AD UG education) with all Admissions Tutors and Programme Directors.

  • Increase the number and proportion of females applying for PGR programmes in BLS and LMS

    Undertake review of marketing and recruitment materials (including web pages) and work with our Marketing Partner to refresh and update as necessary. Success criteria: Refreshed marketing and recruitment materials for PGR programmes in BLS and LMS.

    Undertake focus groups with UG and PGT students to understand better their views of continuing to PGR study. Use findings to develop actions to raise awareness of PGR, careers and provide support to students who are interested but do not feel confident in taking that step. Success criteria: Greater understanding of the reasons why females are choosing not to apply for PGR study and actions in place by June 2019 to help to address any identified issues.

    Predicted Outcome: Increase in enquiries and applications from females for PGR programmes to 60% by 2022.

    Lead: Paul McKean (AD PG education) with PGR Admissions Tutors.

  • Seek to understand better the reasons for lower attainment outcomes and completion rates to develop initiatives to address any issues of gender-related bias

    As there is no clear trend in why female students outperform males, we will continue to monitor, with data on performance by gender included in Annual Teaching Reviews. If clear trends emerge then we will explore reasons and amend the assessment policy in light of findings. Success criteria: Routine monitoring of performance by gender in all Annual Teaching Reviews with pro-active response as trends emerge.

    Develop a clear policy and guidance for managing intercalations, consulting with students and following best practice. Success criteria: Policy in place by March 2019 and consistently applied.

    Investigate whether there is a link between intercalation and completion rates for Part-time students. Success criteria: Better understanding of possible links between intercalation and completion rates.

    Predicted outcome: Greater understanding of drivers affecting attainment and completion with actions developed by July 2021 with a view to improve attainment and completion outcomes by 10%.

    Leads: Christine Shirras (AD UG education) and Paul McKean (AD PG education).

  • Supporting the career progression of students

    Explore career choices in more depth with our postgraduate students to provide more tailored careers support to them. Success criteria: A better understanding of the careers our PG students aspire to and provision of more tailored careers support for them by March 2020.

    Develop further opportunities for our postgraduate students to interact with the wider research community. Success criteria: One networking event per term, each attended by at least 15 PGR students, research and academic staff, which provides the opportunity to network with each other and academic and research staff from Oct 2019.

    Continue to provide internships and other activities to promote an academic career path to UG students. Success criteria: Increase the awareness of UG students of the benefits of an academic career. 100% of UG students are made aware of opportunities and encouraged to take part.

    Predicted outcome: Increased and improved support to our students to enhance their employability measured through Destination of Learners in Higher Education and Exit Questionnaires (10% improvement). Improved responses regarding career support and professional development through PTES (5%) and PRES (15%). 10% increase in proportion of students who are considering an academic career (FHM 2021 student questionnaire).

    Leads: Paul McKean (AD PG education) with Jackie Parry (Co-Chair EEC) and Careers Advisers.

  • Increasing the visibility of role models

    Ensure roll out of BLS’s alumni seminars across FHM is well promoted and a wide-range of students attend. Provide networking opportunity with this (funded by EEC). Success criteria: Successful seminar series that is sustainable and well-received by students (measured by feedback).

    Continue to monitor gender balance of seminar series across the Faculty and ensure balance is maintained. Success criteria: Maintenance/enhancement of gender balance of seminar series speakers. Ensure promotion of seminars is prominent and equitable.

    Consider other mechanisms by which to increase the visibility of role models for staff and students. Success criteria: Agreed set of mechanisms that provide increased visibility of role models by Oct 2020. Including role models at all levels of career (e.g., researchers as role models to students).

    Predicted outcome: 20% improvement in 2021 student survey response (agree/strongly agree) to questions relating to identification/visibility of role models.

    Leads: Jackie Parry (Co-Chair EEC) with Seminar Convenors.

All staff


  • Enhance the quality of the PDR conversation for all staff groups

    Work with HR and OED colleagues to ensure that training is provided to all staff (both reviewers and reviewees) and to facilitate a smooth rollout of any new processes. Success criteria: Staff understand and engage with the new PDR processes and are able to access appropriate training in a timely manner to support the transition.

    Predicted outcome: PDR uptake is 100% and staff feedback in the 2021 staff survey continues to be positive to same level or better.

    Lead: Marie Knox-Davies (HR partner).

  • Explore and respond to reasons for relatively lower uptake of Staff Development Funds by R-only and Professional/Support staff

    Continue to promote Staff Development Fund to these staff groups. Use workshop on career development during away day event to identify potential activities/address any perceived barriers. Success criteria: Workshop session undertaken with professional/support staff to understand better the types of activities that these staff feel they would benefit most from and also identify (and then act) on any perceived barriers.

    Predicted outcome: Increase in applications from R-only and professional staff to reflect the proportion of these groups in the staff population by 2022. Based on 2017/18 figures this would require a 4-fold increase for R-only and a 1.5-fold increase for professional staff.

    Leads: Amelia Hunt (Co-Chair EEC) and Katherine Froggatt (AsD Staff Development).

  • Review the support arrangements for maternity, paternity and adoption leave

    Findings from focus groups to inform recommendations for improvements to the management of leave. Success criteria: Production of report that identifies any specific challenges related to maternity/paternity/shared or adoption leave and recommends solutions, by Nov 2018 and implemented Nov 2019.

    Develop guidance for line managers to assist them in planning and managing maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave with individuals. Success criteria: Guidance document in place by Nov 2019.

    Continue to advocate for a more inclusive definition of 'research active' in use in the Maternity/Adoption Research Support (MARS) scheme. Success criteria: Change to the MARS scheme to adopt a more inclusive definition of 'research active'.

    Predicted outcome: 2021 staff survey shows 100% of staff who have taken maternity/paternity/parental/adoption leave have had a positive experience of the management of their leave.

    Lead: Nik Copeland (EEC) with Jackie Parry (Co-Chair EEC).

  • Continue to improve and reinforce a culture of positive work-life balance

    Monitor and seek feedback on the policies of, (i) limiting emails, (ii) meetings 10-4pm and (iii) guidance of home working to ensure they are meeting the needs of staff. Success criteria: Agreed Faculty policies were implemented on a set of work-life balance issues by Jul 2018. Feedback to-date via the Faculty Discussion Forum has been supportive.

    Continue to explore issues relating to work-life balance through focus groups and develop further initiatives. Success criteria: Increased awareness of challenges surrounding work-life balance and ongoing responsive actions and policies to support staff to meet these challenges.

    Roll out of new Workload Allocation Models (WAM) to DHR and LMS during 2017-18. Success criteria: New WAM implemented in each Division by Oct 2018.

    Continue to develop the WAM framework across the Faculty including building in transparency as standard. Success criteria: WAM continues to develop in response to the changing requirements of academic life.

    Develop initiatives such as the Dean's Awards to celebrate success and recognise contributions. Success criteria: Annual award ceremony recognising the valuable contribution made by members of all staff groups.

    Predicted outcome: 20% improvement in 2021 staff survey responses (agree/strongly agree) to questions relating to work-life balance and wellbeing and the workload allocation model.

    Leads: Neil Johnson (Dean) with three HoDs - Paul Bates, Rachael Isba and Catherine Walshe.

  • Maintaining appropriate gender balance of groups involved in major decision-making discussions

    Continue to monitor gender balance of decision-making committees maintain and improve gender balance. Success criteria: Maintenance/enhancement of appropriate gender balance across all Faculty committees such that all Faculty committees retain a gender balance that is at least 50:50 by 2020.

    Explore Unconscious Bias training for decision-making groups (e.g., as delivered by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education). Success criteria: Decision-making informed by greater awareness of (and management of) unconscious bias.

    Increase female representation on recruitment panels by inviting individuals to become members, who would otherwise not be involved (e.g., more junior staff). Success criteria: Increased pool of appropriately trained female staff to participate in recruitment - providing opportunity for skills development for future career advancement.

    Predicted outcome: Gender profile of groups involved in major decision-making discussions is 50% female or more by 2020.

    Leads: Neil Johnson (Dean) with Amelia Hunt (Co-Chair EEC) and HoDs - Paul Bates, Rachael Isba, Catherine Walshe.

  • Improve the experience of induction for staff across the Faculty

    With feedback from recent new starters on the Faculty’s monthly orientation sessions, develop a Faculty Induction pack. Success criteria: Faculty induction pack in place by Aug 2018.

    Evaluate, through direct feedback and a short survey, the effectiveness and benefits to new starters of the current induction process, including the 'Welcome to FHM' session, and respond to recommendations for improvement. Success criteria: Improvement of current induction offer and introduction of other induction activities in response to survey outcomes.

    Introduce mentoring for Research-only and Professional/Support staff as part of induction/probation. Success criteria: 25% increase in staff awareness and uptake of mentoring as measured by 2021 staff survey.

    Predicted outcome: New staff have access to information in a timely manner to enable them to engage with their roles, induction activities provide a welcome and staff quickly feel part of their Division. Measured by responses to induction survey (>90% of new starters are satisfied with their induction) and analysis of responses of staff in first 3 years since appointment to questions on staff satisfaction and engagement in the 2021 staff survey.

    Leads: Amelia Hunt (Co-Chair EEC) and Katherine Froggatt (AsD Staff Development).

  • Increase the proportion of staff in the Faculty who have undertaken EDI training

    Introduce diversity sharing best practice events/training. Success criteria: Termly diversity sharing best practice events/training in place from Jan 2019. 25% of staff will have attended the sessions by 2021; feedback on sessions is positive.

    Predicted outcome: 100% of staff have participated in EDI training either through online Diversity in the Workplace or through sharing best practice events by Jul 2020.

    Leads: EDI reps – Neil Dawson (BLS), Elaine Taylor (LMS) and Mark Limmer (DHR).

  • Improve the visibility of the impact of the work that the EEC has done, and will do

    Ongoing consultations on proposed EDI initiatives. Success criteria: Increased engagement of staff and students in consultation process.

    Publish a Faculty EDI annual report. Success criteria: Annual report from Sept 2018.

    Establish a programme of events by Oct 2019 inviting both internal and external speakers to talk about their careers, experiences related to Athena SWAN (AS) and the impact on them. Success criteria: Increased awareness of impact of AS activities.

    Regular review of communications, advertising and marketing materials and web content to ensure that language and imagery are not gender biased and promote a positive message regarding EDI. Success criteria: Regular communications to staff and students, including through social media; greater prominence on webpages.

    Predicted outcome: 20% improvement in 2021 staff/student survey responses (agree/strongly agree) to questions relating to Athena SWAN.

    Leads: Amelia Hunt and Jackie Parry (Co-Chairs EEC) with EDI reps.

  • Build on the work we have already undertaken to develop our ‘beacon’ activities.

    Continue to offer mentoring to other Lancaster departments and elsewhere. Success criteria: Positive feedback from departments we have mentored on the support we have provided. Increased contact with similar faculties/departments from other universities to enable sharing of good practice more widely.

    Develop plan of focus for beacon activities that will have the greatest impact. Success criteria: A clear plan for beacon activities that is strategic in approach, agreed by EEC with commitment from PRC. Implement plan by Sept 2018.

    Predicted outcome: Completed set of activities both within and external to the University which have long-lasting impact in sharing best practice and promoting greater awareness of equality issues.

    Leads: Jackie Parry and Amelia Hunt (Co-Chairs EEC) with Paul Bates (HoD, BLS)

Academic staff specific (R-only, T-only, T&R)


  • Enhance support for academic promotions at all levels but particularly to Professor

    Continue to develop workshops, providing bespoke sessions for specific groups e.g., research staff. Success criteria: Regular promotions events - at least 3 per year, well-attended with positive feedback. Increase proportion of eligible staff who have attended to 100% by Jul 2022.

    Host case writing workshops (small group/1-1). Success criteria: Regular case writing workshops (1 every 6 months), well-attended with positive feedback. Up to 8 members of staff supported in Sep 2019. Increase capacity for support over time by 20% per year.

    Continue to build cohort of promotions mentors over time. Success criteria: Formal mentoring available to all staff planning on promotion from Sep 2018 (Promotions mentors for imminent [1yr] candidates; Mentors for those progressing towards an application).

    Maintain Faculty Promotions Champion scheme, identifying and training future Champions to provide succession and avoid overburdening of incumbents. Success criteria: Scheme maintained with sufficient Promotions Champions to support all promotions candidates.

    We will work with the University to put in place an underwriting scheme to enable promotion of research staff without impact on research grants. Success criteria: Mechanisms in place to enable promotions of research staff on external research grant funding.

    To raise further awareness, we will discuss research-only promotion, including options on how this can be funded, at a future promotions workshop for both researchers and PIs. Success criteria: Clearer understanding by both Research Staff and PIs of options and support available for the career development, progression and promotion of Research Staff.

    In consultation with Research Staff, introduce a tailored support programme similar to that in place for T&R/T-only staff. Success criteria: Promotions support programme tailored for Research Staff in place.

    Working with colleagues in OED to introduce 'confidence building' and 'career development' workshops for academic staff. Use these workshops to raise awareness of the benefits of mentoring. Success criteria: Regular workshops and events throughout the year. Increased awareness and uptake of mentoring support. Measured through PDR returns and staff survey.

    Predicted outcome: Increase the proportion of eligible staff, including R-only, who apply for promotion to 15%/year from 2021 onwards. Increase the percentage of academic staff who have been mentored to 100% by 2022.

    Leads: Jackie Parry (Co-Chair EEC) and Katherine Froggatt (AsD Staff Development) with Neil Johnson (Dean).

  • Increase proportion of females applying for academic T&R positions

    Develop guidance on best practice drawing on findings of external recruitment review and follow-up consultations. Success criteria: Best practice document available for recruiting managers.

    Continue to review all recruitment materials to ensure consistency of approach and messages regarding our commitment to EDI, free from gender biased phrasing and imagery. Developing further in light of recommendations from the review of recruitment. Success criteria: Continuous improvement in recruitment materials e.g., use of positive imagery, absence of gender-biased phrasing, inclusion of equality statement and Athena SWAN logo, options for male and female contacts.

    Materials used and experience gained to be used to develop best-practice guidelines and template job descriptions and person specifications for academic roles. Success criteria: A suite of template job descriptions and person specifications developed for academic roles available for future recruitment rounds.

    Continue to monitor impact and address any issues with the use of search committees and recruitment agencies who we directed to consider gender balance in the candidate pool. Success criteria: Clear analysis of the impact of using search committees/recruitment agencies on equality.

    Continue bespoke Recruiting the Best training sessions to ensure a sufficiently large pool of potential Panel Chairs and members to avoid overburdening. Success criteria: All Chairs and >50% of panel members to have undertaken training by Dec 2019.

    Introduce 3 year renewal requirement for all Panel Chairs. Success criteria: All Chairs to have had training within last 3 years by Dec 2022.

    Increase pool of female panel members by inviting females who are less senior to participate, supported by an experienced Chair. Success criteria: Further improvement and greater consistency in the gender profile of recruitment panels. More female staff who have developed interviewing skills and are able to participate in panels.

    Establish a 'Developmental Lecturer' route - drawing on experiences of LMS and other departments across the University. Success criteria: Proposal for 'Developmental Lecturer' route approved by PRC by Jan 2019 with further development based on feedback from members and RCAD.

    Recruiting managers to be asked to consider making academic roles cross-grade (e.g., 7, 8, 9), part-time, job shares or secondments, as appropriate. Success criteria: Scheme in place from Aug 2019, with evaluation Jul 2021.

    Make more explicit in adverts that we will consider part-time and job-sharing. Success criteria: All vacancies advertised across grades (if appropriate), with flexible FTE/job share, and secondment if possible.

    Monitoring of applicant/interview/appointment ratios and investigation of any significant deviations. Success criteria: Improved consistency in vacancy gender ratios by Oct 2019.

    Predicted outcomes: Increase in proportion of females applying for academic T&R positions from 38% to 45% by Oct 2021. More transparent decision-making embedded in recruitment processes.

    Lead: Neil Johnson (Dean) and Marie Knox-Davies (HR partner) with AsD Staff Development, AsD Communication & Marketing, HoDs and EEC Co-Chairs.

Research staff specific


  • Increase continuity of employment for staff employed on external funding.

    Evaluate 'bridging scheme' pilot and refine the scheme based on evaluation and extend the pilot. Success criteria: Approach approved by PRC in Jul 2017. Business case submitted to the University in Oct 2017 for recurrent funding from 2018/19 onwards. Pilot extended for a further year with at least 2 successful applicants.

    Continue to develop support for Fellowship applications with discipline-specific workshops and mentoring (with RCAD). Success criteria: One workshop per term, well-attended and with positive feedback from attendees. All Research Staff to have been offered the opportunity to attend at least one workshop during the period of their employment.

    Continue to develop and support the work of RCAD. Success criteria: Ongoing development of an agreed number of initiatives implemented.

    Work with HR to introduce a formal, on-line, system for gathering information on staff reasons for leaving and destinations. In the interim this information will be collected more consistently by DOs. Success criteria: 100% of leavers to be requested to provide information on reasons for leaving and their destinations providing a comprehensive record of reasons why people leave the University and their destinations to give a better understanding to inform further actions focussed on retaining staff.

    Predicted outcomes: Increase in number of applications for fellowships by 10%/year from 2018 Increase in numbers of FTC research staff moving to indefinite contracts by 5%/year from 2020.

    Leads: Roger Pickup (AD Research) and Katherine Froggatt (AsD Staff Development).

Professional/support staff specific


  • Increase awareness of Professional/Support staff of career progression routes and opportunities and use development activities

    Host an annual FHM professional/support staff away day with workshop sessions to exchange ideas regarding development activities people have engaged with, career planning sessions, developmental needs analysis and building confidence. Success criteria: Annual career planning and development workshops from 2018, well attended and positive feedback.

    Use the University's newly-launched mentoring scheme to raise awareness of the benefits of mentoring. Take a pro-active approach to support mentor/mentee matching and work with colleagues in OED to provide training for mentors and mentees. Success criteria: Pool of trained mentors, established process to match to mentees. Improvement in staff survey results from 6% to 30% having a mentor by Dec 2021.

    Establish/raise awareness for other development opportunities such as secondments and job shadowing. Develop practical guidance for line managers on how best to support secondments and job shadowing. Success criteria: Mechanisms in place to help reduce the logistical challenges of secondments. More staff encouraged to apply for secondments and more line managers willing to consider option of vacancies as secondments.

    Predicted outcome: Increase in staff familiar with career progression processes to 80% in 2016 staff survey.

    Leads: Amelia Hunt (Co-Chair EEC) and Katherine Froggatt (AsD Staff Development).

Athena Swan in FHM (2012-2017)

The Faculty was awarded a Bronze Athena SWAN award in 2012, and then a Silver award in 2014. This was renewed in the April 2018 round.

Read the summary