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Athena Swan FAQs: Professional and support staff

The answers to some frequently asked questions about professional support staff in your Athena Swan charter application.

What is Advance HE's definition of professional and support staff (PSS) and which staff should we include in our submission?

Academic staff includes postdoctoral researchers, teaching only, research only or teaching and research staff including lecturers, fellows and professors.  Professional and support staff (PSS) are any staff members not included in this definition, including technical staff and administrative staff. Staff who are contracted out should not be included. For department submissions this includes non-academic staff working in the department. This may include administrators and technical support staff.

How do we include professional and support staff (PSS) in Departmental submissions if our staff are centralised/ consolidated or Faculty managed?

The Athena Swan process requires departments to reflect on the experience of those staff who, for their day-to-day work, are based in the Department and/or College/ Faculty. This is because these staff will be exposed to, and are an active part of, the departmental culture (for example, they may be physically located in the department or be part of and experience departmental processes like induction). Departmental submissions should include PSS that are based in, assigned to, or embedded within the Department or College/ Faculty, regardless of where these staff are line managed.

Advance HE recognises that in many instances this will not be clear cut, and data may be difficult to disaggregate, however efforts should be made to do this wherever possible, and supplement any quantitative data with consultation data (e.g. through focus groups, surveys or interviews). It is helpful for panellists to clearly articulate any complexities in structures or line management responsibilities for these staff within the submission. It is crucial to a thorough self-assessment to capture the cultural considerations and experiences of all staff that work within the Department and work towards ensuring that career opportunities, progression, flexible working and career breaks are considered for everyone, whether they are line managed externally to the Department or not.

Departments are encouraged to consider what aspects of their policies, practices, provisions and culture impact staff that are line managed externally, and what is in the department’s control to influence and change. Where data is requested, departments can supplement the data relating to departmentally line managed staff with data for the Faculty as a whole.

For example: Table 1 – showing staff numbers in the Department

 

Academic staff Departmental PSS (technicians) Faculty managed PSS Consolidated PSS members assigned to the Faculty
54.5 FTE (30 FTE female) 8.5 FTE (2.5 FTE female) 6.75 FTE (4.75 FTE female) 11 FTE (7 FTE female)

Table 1 shows the staff member numbers within the Department.  Faculty managed staff and consolidated staff assigned to the Faculty work across the five Departments that make up the Faculty. The only PSS members line managed within the Department itself are technicians, all other PSS are managed within the Faculty or within central departments within the University such as Student Support, Marketing or Admissions.  

Where should professional and support staff be included in the application?

Professional and support staff (PSS) should be considered throughout the Athena Swan process.  For example, PSS should be represented on your SAT team and the action plan should include actions relating to PSS, however there are explicit requirements for PSS data and analysis in the sections detailed below (data pertaining to PSS should be presented separately where appropriate, as indicated by the question text). Please refer to the handbook and relevant application form for more information.  Pages 33-34 of the Awards Handbook gives an overview of requirements.

Institutional applications

  • Bronze

    • Section 2.iii - present data for academic and professional and support staff separately
    • Section 5.5 - Flexible working and managing career breaks (present professional and support staff and academic staff data separately)
    • Section 5.6 - Organisation and culture
  • Silver
    • All the bronze requirements with the addition of:
    • Section 4.2 - Professional and support staff by grade and gender, Professional and support staff on fixed-term, open-ended/permanent and zero-hour contracts by gender, Professional and support staff leavers by grade and gender
    • Section 5.2 - Key career transition points: professional and support staff
    • Section 5.4 - Career development: professional and support staff

Departmental applications

  • Bronze

    • Section 2 – Present data on the total number of academic staff, professional and support staff and students by gender
    • Section 5.5 - Flexible working and managing career breaks (present professional and support staff and academic staff data separately)
    • Section 5.6 - Organisation and culture
  • Silver
    • All the bronze requirements with the addition of:
    • Section 5.2 - Key career transition points: professional and support staff
    • Section 5.4 - Career development: professional and support staff
    • PSS can be included in the case studies (although only required at Gold)