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University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences: Transformed Athena Swan Charter Application Feedback

Transformed Athena Swan Charter Application Feedback
Target Group
Academic staff
Early career staff
Postgraduate students
Professional and support staff
Undergraduate students
Initiative institution
University of Oxford
Application type
Athena Swan Initiative
Publication date

Institution and Department: University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences

Level of award applied for: Silver

Result: Award Conferred

Overall comments

The panel commend the Department for its work to progress gender equality to date, including the development of a structure and processes to carry this work forward. There is evidence of commitment from the senior leadership team and the panel were pleased to see that the academic lead for the Self-Assessment Team (SAT) is financially compensated for their work. They note that the SAT is well-balanced in terms of staff roles and that their work is recognised within personal development reviews.

A robust self-assessment has been carried out and the results articulated clearly. However, with no student representation on the SAT, more details around how students were consulted would have been helpful.

The panel agree that the Department has conducted a satisfactory analysis of and reflection on the relevant quantitative and qualitative data-sets in order to identify its four key priorities. In particular, the panel commend the detailed reflections on the gendered implications of the pandemic and the actions put in place as a result of this.

The panel also commend the honest reflections on progress, or indeed where there was a lack of progress, on the previous priorities (pp35-38) and the focus on what can be learned from the challenges faced, around for example bullying and harassment or women’s career progression.

The panel commend the Department on its ambitious and SMART action plan, with a clear rationale for each action linking back to the self-assessment, as well as effective use made of data to design numerical success criteria and support the measurement of future progress. 

The panel note the spread of responsibility for the implementation of actions across a range of staff but suggested it might be clearer for responsibility to be assigned to particular roles rather than named members of staff to facilitate monitoring over time as some colleagues leave.

The RAG rated previous action plan demonstrates that good progress has been made on the majority of actions and the panel commend the way in which the Department has used their action plan as a live document, updating it in response to their needs at any given time. As noted above, there is some excellent analysis on the challenges faced and main learnings, providing an honest assessment and showcasing a strong commitment to addressing concerns. The panel commend the way in which the reflections on the lack of progress on women’s careers have resulted in the Department designing a new suite of actions to address this issue in a different way.

Scores against criteria

A - Structures and processes underpin and recognise gender equality work

Score: 4 – Good. The application addresses the criterion very well.

B - Evidence-based recognition of the key issues facing the applicant

Score: 3 – Satisfactory. The criterion is adequately addressed.

C - Action plan to address identified key issues

Score: 4 – Good. The application addresses the criterion very well.

D - Demonstration of progress against the applicant's previously identified priorities

Score: 3 –Satisfactory. The criterion is adequately addressed

Key Next Steps

The panel believes that the Department has much to celebrate and with a view to working towards a Gold award in future, suggests that the Department considers how it can disseminate its achievements and areas of good practice more widely across the institution and the sector.

In addition, the panel suggest that with regard to student and staff consultation, the Department may want to consider

  • how the student voice will inform future applications
  • following up on the reduced positive responses to the staff survey, perhaps via subsequent surveys or focus groups.

Good Practice Example

Recruiting more senior male members of the department to champion EDI within their spheres of influence and to contribute to the action plan so that the work is not disproportionately undertaken by female staff.

See the application on the department’s website here.