RCSI Department of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine achieves renewal of Athena Swan Bronze Award

  • General news

The RCSI Department of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine has been awarded a renewal of its Athena Swan Bronze Award – a globally recognised framework committed to achieving gender equality and equality more broadly across higher education.

In 2019 the department was the first in RCSI to be awarded Bronze status and is now the first to have its Bronze Award renewed. 

The Bronze Award renewal process, led by Athena Swan Champions Dr Caroline Curtin and Prof. Oran Kennedy, underscores the department’s commitment to progressing gender equality and increasing wider diversity and representation.  

For renewal awards to be granted, quantifiable progress through the Action Plan of the previous Bronze Award (2019-2023) must be demonstrated – in this case, 68% of goals were fully achieved and the remaining 32% were ‘in progress’. These achievements were made despite the formidable challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic during the initial years of this work. 

The renewal submission involved a detailed assessment of policies, practices and structures concerning gender equality and representation, affirming the steadfast commitment to embedding gender equality within the department. Feedback from the Athena Swan review panel highlighted the pioneering initiative the department undertook in conducting the first gender census benchmarking exercise among anatomy departments in Ireland. The panel also acknowledged the progress with, but recommended continued focus on, the underrepresentation of women in senior academic positions – highlighting this as a priority focus area in the new Action Plan (2024-2028). 

Underlining commitment

Welcoming the award, Prof. Cathal Kelly, Vice-Chancellor, RCSI, said: “The renewal of this Bronze Award underlines our commitment to promoting gender equality at RCSI and the progress we have made. We look forward to supporting the department in making further progress, particularly with regard to the number of women in senior academic positions.” 

Prof. Clive Lee, Head of the Department of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine, said: “I am delighted that our Athena Swan Bronze Award has been renewed. This reflects a major effort by our Athena Swan self-assessment team, comprising 31 members of our department, in collaboration with other institutional colleagues including colleagues from HR and our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit. The renewal of our Bronze Award recognises the work and progress we have made in the past four years, as well as the ambitious improvements and developments we plan for the future.” 

The Athena Swan Charter was established in Ireland in 2015 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in higher education and research. The Charter recognises work undertaken by third-level institutions to address gender equality, as well as the barriers to progression that affect women.

The Charter was updated in 2021 to broaden the scope of the Athena Swan framework by supporting both academic and professional units to deliver impactful and sustainable change in gender equality as well as championing equality work across other equality grounds.