Physics and Astronomy

Athena SWAN

We are proud to hold Bronze Status in the prestigious charter mark Athena SWAN

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:
Athena SWAN comprises 3 levels of recognition for efforts to advance women's careers: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Currently the Physics and Astronomy Department is working towards the Silver level.
Statement of support from the Head of Department

Our Department is a friendly place to work and study. We want everyone to share our passion for Physics and Astronomy. And we strive hard to let everyone achieve to their full potential in our Department. But even with open and outright gender discrimination most definitely a thing of the past, we are very well aware that there is still a long road ahead to true gender equality in science. So we have put together a team of faculty, staff, and students from all backgrounds and genders to help us identify issues impeding equality and tackle them. It can be seemingly very small things that make a difference. Thus we hope we can make work more enjoyable and life easier for all of us and our families.

Professor Jacob Dunningham
Head of Department of Physics and Astronomy
The Application for Bronze Status

 Application for Bronze 2014 [PDF 2.63MB]

The Action Plan

Action Plan for Bronze 2014 [PDF 237.81KB]

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

Wellcome Trust re-entry scheme ---  grant to allow flexibility in research career

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

IET Women's Network



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


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