Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer
Search the Staffnet siteSearch StaffNet
Search type

Organisational Culture


What is it?

Organisational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organisations. Culture is visible in the way things are done and evident in the behaviour of individuals and groups. The University has received a number of equality and diversity awards which evidence its commitment to embedding a real culture change; Athena SWAN, Race Charter Investors in People, Stonewall, Time to Change and Disability Two Ticks.

Women at all levels should be encouraged to raise their profile externally, e.g. at conferences, and professional society activities, and internally by contributing to departmental seminars and presenting to research sponsors. As a guide the percentage of female seminar speakers should be at least representative of the proportion of women at postgraduate level. For conferences organised by the University’s Schools and Faculties at least half of the speakers should be women.

Raising Profiles


As a School (and as individuals) we can take proactive steps to help raise profiles and improve our organisational culture. Simple steps such as prominently displaying your Athena SWAN award (for example in the reception area), having copies of the Athena SWAN certificate on display in various locations (for example student common room, staff kitchen, main walk-ways), asking “where are the women?” and continuously monitoring the gender representation across teaching and research committees can help.

Here are a few examples of what can be done, as well as the places where you will find this good practice happening already. 

Review your committees (in particular decision-making committees):

  • Deputies for roles (particular consideration given to those fromunderrepresented groups and those in less senior positions to provide new opportunities)
  • Chair of a senior management committee opposite gender to Head of School 
    • Effective in School of Physics and Astronomy in their Academic Search Committee
  • Opportunities for early-career staff to join senior committees to help ease committee overload for underrepresented groups.
    • Was used in the Institute of Population Health where a female Research Fellow was appointed as Chair of the Institute for Population Health Board.
    • School of Chemistry: Postdoctoral Research Associate sits on Research Committee    
  • Co-chairs of opposite gender
  • School/Directorate-level committees which ensure equality of opportunity and support
    • School of Computer Science: Staff Development Committee (est. 2013)
    • School of Physics and Astronomy: E&D Committee
    • I.T. Services have established an Equality, Equity and Diversity Committee to address diversity issues in their field
  • Faculty-level E&D committees fed into by each School (opportunity to discuss common issues and make recommendations as a Faculty to Dean and University).
    • Now established in all three Faculties. Additionally the University's Directorate level PSS Staff also have an E&D Committee for consistency in communication and review structures. 
  • Involvement in Athena SWAN/E&D committees/activities considered as a service and leadership role.
  • Review committee membership every two-three years to ensure a good gender balance is maintained and to provide new opportunities to others
    • Used by most School, who review the membership of the Athena SWAN committee annually and rotate at least one quarter of the membership every 2 years


Increasing Visibility:

  • Posters, photos, banners celebrating achievements – gender balance displayed
    • Visit the James Chadwick Building to see the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science celebrating their high achieving students. Also see current photos in the stairwell.
    • School of Physics and Astronomy have posters about leading female researchers on permanent display in their 3rd year teaching labs.
    • Athena SWAN banner, National Women in Engineering Day banner and IWD banner available for general University use (available from ED&I)



  • Videos
    • Faculty of Science and Engineering 2017 'Women of Wonder' showcase of prominent women academics at UoM
    • School of Materials 2017  
    • University of Manchester:Celebrating Inspirational Women (for IWD 2015)
    • University of Manchester: Mind the Gap - Exploring Gender Inequality (2014)
    • School of Psychological Sciences: The Glass Cliff (interview with Professor Michelle Ryan)
    • School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science (gender balance displayed in this promotional video): Research Overview
    • Faculty of Life Sciences: Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell: A Life in Science
    • University of Edinburgh and Royal Society: A Chemical Imbalance
    • Publicise success, events and opportunities, through a variety of methods – newsletter, e-news, notice boards, website, item at School Board and Senior Management committees
      • Athena SWAN (or equality and diversity) as a standing item on agendas
      • Diversity section on newsletter/e-news
      • Keep an archive of achievements 
      • Produce an annual celebratory report
      • Publicise opportunities to the relevant audiences in the School in a timely manner and nominate students, staff, alumni for awards


  • Awards for students/staff – gender-balance in shortlisting
  • Awards or rooms named after a notable female in the field (or an award specifically for female students/staff)
    • School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences - Angela Jane Speakman Prize for UGs.
    • School of Mathematics – Professor Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw meeting room, plus two rooms used by our undergraduates named after Hanna Neumann and Phyllis Nicolson. The rooms now have prominently displayed plaques with pictures of their female namesakes, and brief biographies.
    • Ambassadors and Champions
      • Diversity Champions:
        • Clive Agnew, Disability Champion
        • Karen Heaton, LGBT Champion
        • Martin Humphries, Race Champion
        • Chair and members of the Faculty and School E&D Committees. Faculties of MHS, HUM and FLS. School of Physics and Astronomy.
        • For EPS (who do not, as yet, have a Faculty E&D Committee): Sue Field, Daniele Atkinson, and Pia Pollock.
        • Gender Champions – Athena SWAN Leads.
        • Academic Lead for E&D – Dr Dawn Edge 
  • Postdoc Forum: active in CEAS, Chemistry, Materials. In addition, a University level Research Staff Representative group has been established and feeds in to Research Staff Development 
  • Lecture or event to celebrate women in your field (or STEMM)
    • Participate in national celebration days (International Women’s Day – 8 March, National Women in Engineering Day – 23 June, Ada Lovelace – 15 Oct) e.g. School of Materials Blog 
    • School of Mathematics: Professor Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw annual lecture
    • School of Computer Science & School of Mathematics : Ada Lovelace Day (annual event mid-October)
    • School of Chemistry: Workshop on women’s careers – balancing work and Family (one-off event)
    • Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health 'Engendering Change' event as part of International Women's Day 2017
    • School of Chemistry: Graphene Week (June 2015) – high-level event included the launch of the Women in Graphene Network and Graphene Suite (music inspired by Graphene and penned by a female composer). News articles here and here.
    • School of Art, Languages and Cultures 2017 'Musica' event celebrating works by female composers


It is recognised that some of the suggested activities will require funding. An Athena SWAN fund is available most Schools which can be used to support returners from maternity leave, those with caring responsibilities, facilitating external conference attendance, hosting events or seminars in School, commissioning posters/awards, etc.