School of Life Sciences

Equality and inclusion

A pair of hands wearing turquoise-coloured disposable gloves, holding a sample tray.

Promoting and celebrating equality in our School

Our School has a large, vibrant community of scientists working at all levels in research, teaching, management and outreach. 

We received a Silver Departmental Athena Swan award in October 2020, which followed the Bronze award we achieved in April 2017 and reflects the on-going commitment we have made to improving equality in our department.

Professor Leo Schalkwyk standing outside, wearing a dark-coloured jacket.
"The School of Life Sciences is committed to promoting a positive and inclusive working environment for all our staff and students. We are very proud to have been awarded Athena Swan Silver and we are working hard to live up to its promise of a fair and supportive environment that will foster diverse and inclusive research and teaching staff and student body."
Professor Leo Schalkwyk Head of school

Institutional award

The University of Essex has a Women in Science Network to support female staff and students in STEM subjects and was awarded the Athena Swan Institutional Bronze Award in November 2013 in recognition of its continuing work to support women in STEM.

Departmental award

In October 2020 we were granted a Silver Departmental Athena Swan award, which followed from the Bronze award that we achieved in April 2017. The Silver award reflects the work carried out by staff in our School to continue to improve equality, including a mentorship scheme, support for postdoctoral research staff, and financial help towards childcare costs for academics who wish to attend conferences.

The Athena Swan logo in three shades of grey, with "Athena Swan Silver Award" in blue and grey text.

Resources for staff

There is a wide range of opportunities, resources and support networks available for our staff, both within and outside our University.

Our university has an on-campus nursery, Wivenhoe Park Day Nursery, and Essex Sport run the CHUMS holiday camps during the main school holidays for children and teenagers aged 5 to 14.

Probationary Mentoring

The School has a mentoring policy to support its new academic staff. A senior member of staff is assigned as a mentor to all new academic staff.

For research active staff, one of the key roles of the mentor is to help to de-mystify the ‘rules of the game’ by providing advice on what is worth doing and when, where and how to network, how to develop a career plan, explaining promotion criteria and how to develop a profile within a discipline.

This period of formal mentoring ends when the mentee achieves permanency. Further information about this policy can be found in the staff handbook.  

School Mentoring Scheme

A School Mentoring Scheme has been established as a result of an action from the School’s Athena Swan Bronze Department Award.

This voluntary scheme is open to all academic/research staff and PhD students and aims to support individuals at all stages of their professional or personal development. Mentors will provide support, give advice and guidance on career/personal development and provide opportunities to reflect on progress.

The scheme supports both traditional mentoring with senior staff as well as peer mentoring and can be either long-term or short-term to suit individual needs. All documents are available on the School Mentoring Scheme Moodle. 

Starting in any new workplace is always a little daunting. The mentorship scheme in Life Sciences meant I had a personal connection with a knowledgeable member of staff from day one. This was an enormous help for both small and big challenges in my new job.
Dr Michelle Taylor Lecturer

Applying for Permanency and Promotion

The School actively promotes academic and research staff applying for permanency and promotion. 

Workshop - Annual staffing review: preparing for permanency and promotion

This workshop will help you to gain an insight into the criteria for permanency and promotion, and the various categories under which candidates are required to provide evidence of activities, responsibilities and achievements. It will also provide helpful guidance and information about the role, remit and procedures relating to the Academic Staffing Committee which oversees these important career processes.

The workshop is run on a regular basis and can be booked via HR organiser.

Resources for students

We understand that some of our students may have different access needs or may need additional support while studying with us.

Our Student Directory includes articles about how we support our students, and how we ensure our campuses are accessible to all. If you have any questions you can also contact our Colchester Student Services Hub, who are happy to answer queries and provide signposting to our range of services.

A group of people, heads out of shot, wearing white lab coats and green disposable gloves, working at a lab bench with a notebook, petri dish and little glass bottle. One of the hands is holding a swap and another is holding a microscope slide.
Blog: Inequality in Science

In an open discussion run by the School of Life Sciences three scientists discussed the barriers in the way of improving equality and diversity in science, and looked at what universities can do to help.

Read the blog