School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Athena Swan

The School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex is strongly committed to promoting and cultivating an inclusive and equal culture. We recognise the invaluable contributions, diverse perspectives and experiences, from all members of staff and students to the success of our Departments, the School and the University regardless of personal background. Only by fostering an inclusive environment which promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected can we succeed

What is Athena SWAN?

The Athena SWAN Charter recognises commitment to advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in academia. The Charter was launched in June 2005. Any higher education institution which is committed to the advancement and promotion of the careers of women in STEMM in higher education and research can apply for membership.The charter has now been expanded to recognise work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.  To that end, any references to gender are to be taken as inclusive of all gender identities including, for example, non-binary, fluid and trans identities.

The beliefs underpinning the Charter are:

  • The advancement of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine is fundamental to quality of life across the globe
  • It is vitally important that women are adequately represented in what has traditionally been, and is still, a male-dominated area
  • Science cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population, and until women and men can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords
  • For more information, please visit:
In 2014 the Department of Physics and Astronomy was awarded the Bronze Award followed by the Department of Mathematics in 2016. Both Departments held a Bronze award ever since. Since 2019 the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences hold an overarching Athena SWAN Bronze award.
Statement of support from the Head of School

I am happy to give my strongest possible support to the Equality and Diversity programme within our School. Even if the enormous gender disparity within mathematics and physics were not itself an adequate indicator, I see it as a moral imperative that we should do all we can to change the culture and redress the imbalance by supporting women in all aspects of their career development, from ensuring equality in the initial hiring process through to accommodating flexible working patterns, allowing reduced workload for returning carers, assigning important responsibilities to optimise career enhancement opportunities, and encouraging and supporting applications from promotion.

Our School faculty and staff undertake obligatory training in matters of diversity and unconscious bias. In addition to our internal processes, we have used our SEPnet consortium agreement to leverage University resources in support of the Equality and Diversity agenda, for example obtaining funding for a Daphne Jackson Fellowship. I see Equality and Diversity as a key ingredient within a broader agenda to encourgae diversity, widening participation, and family-friendly policies for all, regardless of gender or background. Historically, we have been a small, close-knit community, where a culture of mutual support and collegiality was essential to our viability. I experienced this support personally whilst going through an extremely difficult period of my life some years ago, and to me it is therefore a central part of our School identity: only in this manner can we attract, retain and harness the full productivity of the very best faculty and staff. Letting people fall by the wayside because needs specific to their personal background have not been met is simply not an option. To emphasize the importance of all of these issues, and to ensure their adequate consideration as a part of the determination of School strategies and policies, I have included our Director of Diversity and Equality within our Senior Management Team.

Prof Philip Harris

Head of the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

The Application for Bronze Status

 Application for Bronze 2014 [PDF 2.63MB]

The Action Plan

Action Plan for Bronze 2014 [PDF 237.81KB]

LMS Good Practise Scheme

The London Mathematical Society (LMS) is the UK's learned society for mathematics. Its purpose is the advancement, dissemination and promotion of mathematical knowledge, both nationally and internationally.

In February 2013, the LMS launched Advancing Women in Mathematics: Good Practise in UK University Departments. The Society's Women in Mathematics Committee has developed a Good Practice Scheme with the aim of supporting mathematics departments to embed equal opportunities for women within their working practices.

The Department of Mathematics is proud to be recognised as a Supporter of the Good Practice Scheme.

To become a supporter, a department should be committed to supporting the scheme and the five principles of good practice:

Principle 1 - A robust organisational framework to deliver equality of opportunity and reward.

Principle 2 - Appointment, promotion and selection processes and procedures that encourage men and women to apply for academic posts at all levels.

Principle 3 - Departmental structures and systems that enable men and women to progress and continue in their careers.

Principle 4 - Departmental organisation, structure, management arrangements and culture that are open, inclusive and transparent and encourage the participation of all staff.

Principle 5 - Flexible approaches and provisions that encompass the working day, the working year and a working life and enable individuals at all career and life stages, to maximise their contribution to mathematics, their department and institution.

Our Family-Friendly Policies and Practices

Within our Department, we aim to be in the vanguard with regard to policies and practices that support the diverse needs of our staff and students.  As examples, we have implemented the following:

  • A completely open and transparent workload allocation model that accounts in detail for time spent on the many tasks undertaken by our academics, sharing burdens fairly and allowing junior faculty to take on significant responsibilities.
  • A policy of reduction of duties for returners from maternity leave, to 60% of the normal workload during the first semester
  • Internally arranged meetings to take place, as far as possible, within family-friendly hours of 10 am to 4 pm, with all staff (including minute-takers) explicitly permitted to leave at the end of the scheduled time
  • Appointment of Equality and Diversity Champions, with whom concerned staff members may discuss in confidence without having to pass via their Line Managers
  • Explicit encouragement for all research and teaching staff to discuss their career progression within their annual Appraisal, rather than using Appraisal merely as a performance-management tool.
Funding for Female Scientists

Women in Science Fellowships --- enable female scientists to facilitate world-class research and develop their careers 

Daphne Jackson Trust --- returning researchers to their careers following a career break

Funds for Women Graduates --- promotes higher education and further learning for women graduates

Networks for Female Researchers

LMS Women in Mathematics

European Women in Mathematics



Equality and Diversity at the University of Sussex
The University of Sussex is committed to providing an environment for work and study that advances equality of opportunity.
Please visit the University web pages relating to Equality and Diversity, and the University Athena SWAN web pages



Equality and Diversity Champions

The School has appointed two Equality and Diversity Champions.

They act as a point of liaison between members of the School, professional services, and members of the management including the Heads of Department and the Head of School. Where an issue of inequality is perceived to arise, they are appropriate points of contact to approach about the issue.



Dr Cassandra Churchwell               

Dr Cassandra Churchwell



Dr Alessia Pasquazi          

Dr Alessia Pasquazi







UK Equality and Diversity Law

The 2010 Equality Act is the most significant piece of equality legislation in the UK for many years. It simplifies, streamlines and strengthens the law. It gives individuals greater protection from unfair discrimination and makes it easier for employers and companies to understand their responsibilities. It also sets a new standard for those who provide public services to treat everyone with dignity and respect.    

Equality act 2010    

Equality act guidance, from the Government Equalities Office

Equality act guidance and codes of practice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission

Other Resources

There are many respurces about Diversity and Equality available online. Here are a few links to relevant web pages:

IOP: http://www.

Royal Society:

Women in Engineering:


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