University recognised for advancing gender equality in the arts.

Posted on 17th September 2014

The University of Chester has been recognised by a national advisory body for its progress in advancing gender equality in arts, humanities and social science careers.

The University was one of only five institutions throughout the UK to achieve Bronze level in the Equality Challenge Unit’s (ECU) trial gender equality charter mark – the first award scheme of its kind for these disciplines.

ECU is a registered charity which works to further and support equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education institutions across the UK and in colleges in Scotland. Providing a central source of expertise, research, advice and leadership, ECU supports institutions to build an inclusive culture that values the benefits of diversity, removing barriers to progression and success for all staff and students and challenging unfair practices that disadvantage individuals or groups.

Based on the principles of ECU’s highly successful Athena SWAN Charter for women in science, the gender equality mark aims to address chronic gender imbalance and underrepresentation in the arts, humanities and social science. Bronze level is the first step in the process, demonstrating a strong commitment to specific actions and building a culture that will improve the representation, progression and success of both staff and students.

While the charter has a particular focus on the underrepresentation of women in senior roles, it will also encourage progress on the underrepresentation of men in subjects such as teacher and social work and also seeks to address the unfair treatment often experienced by transgender people.

Kathryn Leighton, HR Manager- Development and Diversity at the University said: “A range of staff from throughout the institution came together to review the current picture of gender equality at the University of Chester and make suggestions for actions that would result in real change. 

“An 18-point action plan was established which the University will work towards over the next three years.  We have some very exciting initiatives in the pipeline, such as the implementation of a Women’s Networking Group which holds its first meeting in November.”

David Ruebain, ECU's Chief Executive, added: “This result offers an opportunity to celebrate the hard work and achievements of everyone involved in the charter mark trial, and to focus on the positive progress being made to address chronic gender inequalities in higher education.

“Following the success of this trial round, we are delighted that we will now be able to develop fully a charter mark that supports equality in the arts, humanities and social sciences – disciplines that have not until this point received the same attention as science subjects.

“We hope that the gender equality charter mark will have the same positive effect for these subjects as Athena SWAN has had on women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine.

“I commend the work of all the participants so far, and look forward to seeing the impact of their actions as they move up to Silver and Gold levels in the future.”