1 April 2014

The Sanger Institute honoured with Athena SWAN Bronze Award

Research institute among first in the UK to be recognised for commitment to advancing women's careers in science

Athena SWAN Bronze Award

Athena SWAN Bronze Award

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is one of the first six research institutes in the UK to be recognised by the Equality Challenge Unit's Athena SWAN Charter, a scheme that recognises excellence in women's employment in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine.

The Institute has received an Athena SWAN Bronze Award, the first in a three-stage process aimed at advancing women's careers. To receive this award, the institute has acknowledged challenges holding back gender equality and has made a commitment to redress imbalance.

"Our Athena SWAN submission has been an excellent opportunity to take stock of where we are, identify areas in need of action, and formulate a strong aspirational plan for the future," says Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Sanger Institute.

" Our Athena SWAN submission has been an excellent opportunity to take stock of where we are, identify areas in need of action, and formulate a strong aspirational plan for the future."

Professor Sir Mike Stratton

This is the first time that research institutes not part of a higher education institution have been eligible to apply. The expansion of the Athena SWAN Charter was developed following a pilot in which the Sanger Institute and five other organisations, including the MRC National Institute for Medical Research, were successful in achieving an Athena SWAN award.

David Willetts, universities and science minister said: "Research institutes play a substantial role in producing world-class research and helping the UK deliver global excellence. We support this expansion of the Athena SWAN Charter to research institutes as an opportunity to ensure that the potential of women throughout the workforce is retained and encouraged. Such a visible commitment to developing excellence in employment practices can only assist in keeping the UK performing on a global stage."

The Sex in Science programme, a joint initiative between the Sanger Institute and EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute, was established to generate discussion and raise awareness about issues traditionally facing women in science, and to drive policy and practice changes. The Sanger Institute's application to the Athena SWAN charter was made as part of this programme's objectives.

"The Athena SWAN Bronze Award recognises our on-going commitment to tackling the issues that cause women to be represented in diminishing proportions as career levels progress," says Professor Eleftheria Zeggini, head of the Sex in Science programme and Faculty member at the Sanger Institute. "Increasingly the reasons for this leaky pipeline affect men just as much as women. We are working to become a flexible and family friendly environment that enables people to balance their professional and home lives."

Notes to Editors

The Athena SWAN Charter

The Athena SWAN Charter is owned and managed by Equality Challenge Unit (ECU). Across the UK, 100 higher education institutions are members of the Charter, approximately 75% of all eligible institutions. An independent evaluation of the impact of the Charter on progressing cultural and systemic change is due to be published in Summer 2014.


The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is one of the world's leading genome centres. Through its ability to conduct research at scale, it is able to engage in bold and long-term exploratory projects that are designed to influence and empower medical science globally. Institute research findings, generated through its own research programmes and through its leading role in international consortia, are being used to develop new diagnostics and treatments for human disease.


The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We support the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. Our breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. We are independent of both political and commercial interests.


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