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University of Manchester Gender Equality Plan

The University of Manchester is committed to accelerating and achieving gender equality for the benefit of our staff, students and wider community and fully recognises that equality, diversity and inclusion are critical to our success and excellence in research and discovery, teaching and learning and social responsibility.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is central to Our Future Strategy, vision and values.

The University of Manchester was one of the earliest UK institutions to strategically prioritise gender equality following the principles of the Athena Swan gender equality charter. We established our first gender equality action plan in 2008 when just 12% of our professoriate were women. As the Athena Swan charter has evolved and expanded beyond STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) to all disciplines and staff and student groups so has our approach. We have gender equality action plans at Institutional level and in all three Faculties and associated Schools co-ordinated through the University Gender Equality Committee (Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team) and our Athena Swan Network. Currently we hold University Silver and all 9 Schools hold awards (5 Silver, 4 Bronze) recognising the difference that our gender equality plans are making. To see the progress we are making and areas of ongoing challenge please see our University and School Athena swan submissions and associated data sets.

Women now account for: 

Image shows data for women in UoM

However, we know we have much more to do and we are not complacent. We recognise the distance we have to travel to achieve gender parity, ensure our gender equality progress isn’t slowed and to accelerate our efforts to address intersectional, cultural and systemic barriers to equality, diversity and inclusion.

1. Our Gender Equality Plan is a public document signed and fully supported by our top management

Our latest University Athena Swan application and associated Gender Equality Action Plan (GEP) are publicly available online and have been fully endorsed by our President and Vice Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell and the University Senior Leadership Team (SLT). Our Vice President for Social Responsibility, Professor Nalin Thakkar, leads on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and as a full member of SLT ensures that our GEP is firmly embedded in strategic processes. Our GEP demonstrates a thorough understanding of our gender equality issues and challenges and sets clear goals and detailed actions and measures of success to ensure we achieve them.

2. We have dedicated expertise and resources to accelerate equality progress

We have dedicated resources to support progression of our GEP. At University level we have a Director for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), Banji Adewumi, who leads our independent EDI directorate and EDI Team. Our EDI team includes experienced equality experts and EDI partners for each Faculty, a dedicated charter marks co-ordinator and data analyst. We have also appointed an academic lead for Gender and Sexual Orientation Equality (Prof Rachel Cowen) who chairs our Athena Swan/Gender Equality Committee and is a national panel chair for the Athena Swan charter. Rachel works in partnership with Prof Dawn Edge (Academic Lead for Race, Religion and Belief) and Prof Jackie Carter (Academic Lead for Disability) to ensure intersectional and aligned equality progression across all protected characteristics.

In addition to University level resources we have significant wider resources and support for our GEP to embed gender equality activity and progress in the three Faculties and central PS directorates. We have a professional services EDI lead and Associate Deans for Social Responsibility/EDI in each Faculty responsible for cascading and embedding equality actions through a network of diversity champions. We also have Athena Swan committee chairs and team members within each of our 9 schools who lead on local GEP plans. Community consultation and engagement is critically important and we have a large number of active staff and student network groups including several women’s networks, including the vibrant women@manchester network.

3. Data collection and monitoring is embedded in our institutional planning and accountability process

Our Gender Equality Action Plan is evidence-based and founded on quantitative staff and student baseline demographic data (including sex and gender identity). We triangulate this with qualitative survey data to understand the perceptions and experiences of our diverse staff and student groups and to assess progress and impact of our GEP e.g. through EDI disaggregation of our 3 yearly University Staff Survey, pulse surveys and National Student Survey.  The University formally assesses GEP progress through our EDI Annual Performance Review and University Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team Committee which meet quarterly. We also conduct a University equal pay audit and publish our gender pay gap report annually.  To monitor and assess equality progress at Faculty and School level our dedicated data analyst provides EDI data reports and has developed Faculty and School PowerBI dashboards so that EDI leads/Athena Swan self-assessment teams can track local gender equality progress.

4. Equality training and inclusive leadership capacity building is in place to support staff and students

Our students undertake Diversity Awareness online training and, as part of their studies, can also select a credit-bearing unit, ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: Your Role in Shaping a Fairer World’ through our University College for Interdisciplinary Learning. This unit explores gender issues and builds understanding of global equalities legislation and builds gender and inclusive competence in research, education, employment, health and social care and leadership.

All staff receive mandatory Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training to increase awareness and understanding of bias and inequality and develop inclusive behaviours and practice including gender competence. Specifically we mandate Diversity in the Workplace Training for all new starters as part of their induction process. It is also mandatory for anyone involved in recruitment of staff to refresh their training every 3 years and complete an online module on Unconscious Bias, as well as  Recruitment and Selection training on fair, transparent and lawful practice.

To assess equity of opportunity and career progression we analyse and report on staff engagement with Staff, Learning and Development opportunities by demographic group including gender, race and disability. We also provide targeted Womens leadership development opportunities annually (Aurora, Women into Leadership Programmes and 100 Black Women Professors Now Programme).

To promote collective accountability for equalities progress and inclusive leadership capacity we have developed a new University of Manchester Leadership Framework including the key competence “role model for inclusion”. The framework is accompanied by a self-assessment tool and self-directed learning to support all of our leaders and managers in the setting of personal equality objectives as part of our annual appraisal process.


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