Queen Mary University of London’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (FMD) has received an Athena Gold Swan Award, recognising its significant progression and achievements in gender equality in medicine. The FMD is one of seven faculties in the UK to receive a Gold Award.
The Athena Swan Charter is a framework which is used across the world to support and transform gender equality within higher education (HE) and research. It was established in 2005 to help remove barriers faced by women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine. The initiative has since grown to tackle gender inequality more broadly across the world.
The Faculty has held a Silver Award since 2011. To receive the Gold Award, the Faculty went through a rigorous application process based on demonstration of longitudinal metrics, as well as on evidence that they have fulfilled the actions in the 2018 action plan. An independent panel of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) experts felt that the Faculty has demonstrated ‘highly significant’ progress over the five-year assessment period.
The EDI leadership over the past five years was described by the Athena Swan panel as ‘transformative’ and the beacon EDI achievements that extend beyond the Faculty as ‘very impressive’. The EDI team was led by Professor Chloe Orkin, outgoing Academic EDI Lead and Athena Swan Chair from 2019-2022; Dr Dunja Aksentijevic, Athena Swan Chair since 2022; and Laura Simpson, the Faculty’s EDI Manager. Laura also oversees the Athena Swan submissions for the Faculty’s Institute of Dentistry, which currently holds an Athena Swan Silver Award and will submit a separate application in November 2024.
Professor Sir Mark Caulfield, VP Health, said:
“Winning an Athena Swan Gold Award in Medicine at Queen Mary for advancing gender equity reflects our collective commitment to making our Faculty a fairer, more inclusive place that celebrates diversity. I am so grateful to our EDI leadership team that has worked tirelessly to make this happen. Our Athena Swan future action plan has been described as ‘ambitious’ and I will ensure that we deliver on it. We will continue to strive to be the most inclusive university of its kind anywhere.”
Professor Chloe Orkin, outgoing Academic EDI Lead, said:
“The time and effort I have spent working to deliver meaningful change for staff and students in our faculty has been some of the most rewarding and meaningful work that I have ever done. I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to lead over the past five years and thankful to my colleagues on the senior leadership team for working with me to implement real change. I would like to particularly thank EDI Officer Laura Simpson who has supported this work since 2019. Immense thanks too to my EDI Deputies: Dr Vanessa Apea, Professor Ruth Dobson, Dr Aylin Baysan and especially to Dr Dunja Aksentijevic, our current Athena Swan Chair.”
Dr Dunja Aksentijevic, Athena Swan Self-assessment Team Chair, said:
“Whilst the task of achieving full equality for women is enormous, this Athena Swan Gold Award is a recognition that together as a Faculty and University we can work to achieve environment as well as the world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Application of this magnitude has been an enormous and laborious task, however being the Athena Swan Academic Lead for Medicine has been an immense honour.”
Laura Simpson, the Faculty’s EDI Manager, said:
“I'm delighted we have been awarded this Gold. It's a real testament to the hard work of the team and shows that change is possible when we all work together.”
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