Produced by Guest blogger
This is a guest blog by Laura Hardy, who supported our Design & Engineering department‘s Athena Swan award application and is also involved with the Women in STEM Society here at BU.
Hi! I’m Laura and I’m currently in my final year studying BEng Mechanical Engineering here at Bournemouth University. During my second year of university, I was asked to get involved with BU’s work towards gaining the Athena Swan Bronze award and I did not hesitate to get stuck in. I knew that it would benefit me, as well as current and future female students and staff in the Design & Engineering department at BU.
The Athena Swan Charter promotes gender equality in higher education and research institutions. Put simply, the Athena Swan application process begins by assessing gender equality in the department by looking at data, surveys and focus group results. After the information is gathered, the Self Assessment Team (SAT) creates action points that will improve the equality of the department based on this data we gathered.
Our Design & Engineering department achieved the Athena Swan Bronze award in November 2021. It is such an important award to me because it shows the commitment of the department to the students and staff and it makes me feel proud to be a part of this community and represent women in engineering. Being involved in the award application process has taught me the importance of inclusivity and equality in all aspects of life, not just at university. It has helped me to think about others and to be more aware of people around me. I am proud that the voices of students and staff are valued in our department and I am confident that the Design & Engineering department will successfully achieve the Silver and Gold Athena Swan awards in the future.
My contribution to the Athena SWAN application included a description of who the Women In Engineering Society (now Women In STEM Society) are and what we do. I wrote about how the society provides women with opportunities to network and talk about their experiences in engineering and the professional environment. Throughout the Athena SWAN application and my time at University, I have received a lot of support from Senior Lecturer, Dr Roya Haratian. Roya always had time to help me with the Athena SWAN application and now continues to support me with the Women In STEM society and in my studies. She has helped to grow the Women In STEM society and is always on hand to support events and activities. Her dedication to promoting inclusivity at BU is inspiring and I am grateful for all her support.
After our department achieved the Athena Swan Bronze award, an inclusivity committee was set up in order to address the action plans that came out of the application and address inclusivity generally. I enjoy being part of this committee because I am always learning new things that make me a better person and will benefit me throughout my career. I believe it is important for everyone to learn about inclusivity and diversity because it allows people to feel valued and equal in their workplace. This experience has been a great part of my time at BU and I would recommend other students to get involved with similar opportunities if they can.