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Athena SWAN

Being proud of your Athena SWAN Action Plan…

6 March 2015

I’ve been thinking a lot of about Athena SWAN Action Plans. Action Plans are often the last part of an Athena SWAN application and sometimes we’re in a bit rush as we write them. However, they are a really important part of the application process.

Let me be honest: I don’t like Action Plans. I recognise their importance and their usefulness but I don’t enjoy looking at them! However, I think it’s important to write the best Action Plan we can and ideally it should be an action plan that everybody can be proud of and be willing to work with in your School.

Juliet Jukes, the HR Business Partner at the Cardiff University College of Physical Sciences & Engineering has organised a College Athena Network event today and she has asked me to talk about Action Plans. I will be presenting towards the end of the session so I decided that I needed to distil my thoughts into the key points about Action Plans:

  • It’s about YOUR School!
  • Learn from good practice but…
  • Have realistic success measures.
  • Share the workload – with Senior Staff!
  • You have three years – use it all.

The first point is the most important one – your Action Plan should be customised to your own School and the challenges faced in that School. There are lots of changes that everybody can make but the key is to identify the top few challenges (say three) and focus on those. Ask yourself the question:

What is the most important thing to change?

Staying with the 3×3 thought process: what one thing you can change in 3 weeks, in 3 months and in 3 years? I learned this idea from Janet Wilkinson.

I’m an Athena SWAN assessment panellist. A good Action Plan won’t save a bad application but a bad Action Plan can cost you your Award! As a cautionary tale, one of the Action Plan’s I’ve seen looked as if it was copied from another Department in the same University. It was a great Action Plan but didn’t address the key issues that faced that Department. This did not reflect well on the application.

For more info, I have already written a more detailed list of things to consider for your Action Plan.

Other sources of info I have looked at: