Earlham Institute’s gender equality work recognised with award

21 October 2022
People eating lunch, seen from above

The Earlham Institute has received an Athena Swan Bronze Award for its work to promote gender equality, one of the first institutes to receive the award under a new framework.

Recognising both its historic work and future plans, the award marks another important step in the Institute’s journey towards ensuring an equal work environment for all.

The Athena Swan Charter provides a framework, used around the world, to promote and realise gender equality within research and higher education environments. 

Recipients of an Athena Swan award - be it Gold, Silver, or Bronze - have demonstrated a commitment to both advancing the careers of women in STEMM and to addressing gender equality in its broadest sense.

The award is conferred for five years, during which the Earlham Institute will deliver against a plan of measures designed to strengthen and expand initiatives aimed at tackling inequality.

Professor Neil Hall, Director of the Earlham Institute, said: “We’re proud to receive this award for the second time and the recognition for our efforts to tackle gender inequality. It sends a message to our staff, students, and collaborators that gender equality is something we are absolutely committed to.

“We also recognise we’re on a journey. This is another important step and, while there’s lots we can be proud of, there’s more we can and will do. Our focus now is to deliver on the Athena Swan action plan and challenge ourselves to go even further.”

The Earlham Institute also received a Bronze Award in 2016. The new application was made after the launch of a transformed framework in June 2021, which is designed to be less prescriptive with a greater focus on context, flexibility, autonomy, and support.

Helene conducting a bench-top experiment in the labs at EI

The academic lead for the Earlham Institute’s submission was Dr Christine Fosker, Head of the Research Faculty Office. Dr Fosker said: “The Earlham Institute has a significant focus on data-intensive bioscience and computational biology - research areas that have traditionally seen lower female representation. 

“We’re pleased to see that’s starting to change but we need to be proactive if we want women to have the same opportunities for success, recognition, and career progression.”

Sarah Cossey, Chief Operating Officer and Chair of the Institute’s Inclusivity, Diversity, Equality and Accessibility committee, said: “Gender inequality has to be tackled in every area and at every career stage. Our action plan, co-developed by people from across the Institute, sets us ambitious goals for the next five years to ensure we continue to make progress towards a more equal workplace.

“As a member of the Norwich Research Park, we also work together with our partner institutes to share best practice, celebrate success, and coordinate efforts to accelerate progress.”

Helen Murdoch - EI’s Athena Swan and Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Coordinator - worked in close collaboration with Dr Christine Fosker, Sarah Cossey, Athena Swan working group Self Assessment Teams, the Institute’s wider IDEA Committee members, and a number of other colleagues across the Institute to develop the submission.

The Institute’s action plan, which sets out the key objectives and initiatives for tackling gender inequality over the next five years, has been made publicly available.

Notes to editors.

For more information, please contact:

Greg Bowker

Head of Communications, Earlham Institute (EI)

 +44 (0)1603 450 895 / greg.bowker@earlham.ac.uk


About the Earlham Institute

The Earlham Institute (EI) is a world-leading research institute focusing on the development of genomics and computational biology. EI is based within the Norwich Research Park and is one of eight institutes that receive strategic funding from Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) - £6.45M in 2015/2016 - as well as support from other research funders. EI operates a National Capability to promote the application of genomics and bioinformatics to advance bioscience research and innovation.

EI offers a state of the art DNA sequencing facility, unique by its operation of multiple complementary technologies for data generation. The Institute is a UK hub for innovative bioinformatics through research, analysis and interpretation of multiple, complex data sets. It hosts one of the largest computing hardware facilities dedicated to life science research in Europe. It is also actively involved in developing novel platforms to provide access to computational tools and processing capacity for multiple academic and industrial users and promoting applications of computational Bioscience. Additionally, the Institute offers a training programme through courses and workshops, and an outreach programme targeting key stakeholders, and wider public audiences through dialogue and science communication activities.


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