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Race and gender equality celebrated at Advance HE awards ceremony

25 Jun 2019 | Advance HE Higher education and research institutions came together to celebrate the positive achievements undertaken to advance race and gender equality at the Advance HE Charter Awards.

Higher education institutions (HEIs) and research institutions came together to celebrate the positive achievements undertaken to advance race and gender equality at the Advance HE Charter Awards.

Five universities accepted a Race Equality Charter Bronze award in a ceremony at the University of York on 24 June.


Kingston University, University of Manchester and Royal Holloway University of London successfully renewed their Bronze awards, with Keele University and the University of East London receiving their first Bronze in the February 2019 round of awards as recognition of their  commitment to advance race quality in their institutions

There are currently 56 members and 12 award holders of the Race Quality Charter.


Patron of the Race Equality Charter Professor Kevin Hylton, Head of the Research Centre for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion at Leeds Beckett University, spoke of his work on critical race studies. He plainly stated that the reality of being a Black academic is that, "I rarely sit in my university with another Black academic."

Prof Hylton highlighted why we need to unpick the subtle everyday manifestations of racism and why we need brave conversations on inequality and racism to progress towards social justice. He advised, “If you don’t know how to support a group of your colleagues because your lived experience is different from theirs, ask!”


Professor Marcia Wilson, Associate Dean for Health, Sport and Bioscience at the University of East London (UEL), presented the work UEL has undertaken to tackle institutional racism in order to reach Bronze. She highlighted that there are only 26 BAME women professors in the UK, out of about 20,000.

She spoke of why we need to move away from a deficit model approach and move towards addressing institutional racism in HEIs and explained the pipeline issues and BAME attainment gap that was revealed at UEL as part of the work undertaken for the Race Equality Charter.


Nicola Radcliffe, Head of HR (Strategy and Policy) at Keele University told the audience how the REC framework enabled Keele to focus on, analyse and begin to address previously hidden from sight race in a positive way. She outlined that collaboration, visible senior commitment, resources and courage all enable progress towards race equality. However, she said to “be prepared for, and be OK with, being uncomfortable. It is part of the process.”


The ceremony also recognised gender equality in HEIs with 95 Gold, Silver and Bronze awards going to UK institutions and departments from the November 2018 round of applications.

Athena SWAN Patron and founding member of the gender equality charter, Professor Dame Julia Higgins, took to the stage to explain why the name Athena was chosen. “She is goddess not just of wisdom but of just wars, and we felt we were embarking on a just war for gender equality.”

Dame Julia said Athena SWAN is doing a good job, “You look at departments and you see real changes.”


The University of York Biology department received one of just two Gold awards – the other going to the University of York’s Chemistry department.

Dr Derek Wann, Senior Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at York reminded everyone of a familiar mantra, “Good practice benefits everyone. Bad practice particularly effects minority groups.”


For a full list of Athena SWAN award holders please visit:

For a full list of Race Equality Charter members and award holders please visit:

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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