Professor Sarah Sharples joins Athena SWAN Governance Committee


July 30th, 2020

Professor Sarah Sharples, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and People and Professor of Human Factors, has been announced as a member of the new Athena SWAN Governance Committee.

The Committee has been formed to provide assurance, expert advice and guidance to the Advance HE Board on matters relating to the transformation and ongoing enhancement of the Athena Swan Charter, as recommended by the Independent Review of Athena Swan.

Committee members are highly credible leaders in the field of equality, and have either strategic or practical involvement in Athena Swan in their institution or region. Having experienced the issues identified by the review, they are deeply committed to improving the quality and impact of the Charter and will monitor and ensure the transformation progress is in line with the recommendations of the review, reporting to the Advance HE Board.

Professor Sarah Sharples

Sarah has worked as an academic in the Faculty of Engineering since 1998 and along with colleagues achieved the first Athena Gold awarded to an engineering faculty in 2020. She first led the writing of an Athena Swan application in 2008 and so appreciates how a focus on data, feedback from staff and students, clear setting of actions and capture of impact can help to make real advances in gender equality and EDI.

As Pro Vice-Chancellor for EDI and People, Sarah takes strategic leadership over the ongoing work to advance EDI at the University of Nottingham. She is also a member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council where she chairs the EDI Strategic Advisory Group.

Following an open national call, the Committee membership has been configured with representation from across the sector ensuring that Advance HE members are at the heart of the transformation of Athena Swan. Working with not only the Advance HE Board, the new committee will collaborate with Advance HE’s existing EDI and Peer Review Quality Committees ensuring efficient and effective sector oversight of Athena Swan.

Sarah said: “I was pleased to see the outcome of the recent review of Athena SWAN, and am keen to work with this committee to implement the recommended changes. I look forward to working with Advance HE and sector colleagues to deliver action which will ensure that Athena SWAN acts as an active stimulus for accelerated change to address barriers to career progression, to recognise intersectionality, and to ensure that the Athena SWAN charter meets the needs of the sector as a tool to enhance implementation of EDI strategies in academic and research settings.”

The ambition is for the new charter process to be published at the end of 2020. The Committee will work with the Athena Swan transformation team to layout a transition period and practical support to help members move from the old process to the new process in a way that supports members’ work.

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