Ten departments now leading the way for gender equality

26 June 2014

Ten physics departments have now achieved Juno Champion status, the highest accolade awarded by the Institute of Physics (IOP) for their concerted and innovative approach to embedding gender equality in higher education physics.

Two more university departments become champions of equality

The School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham has become the tenth Juno Champion after displaying its determination and commitment to addressing gender inequities across its whole student and staff body.

Part of its drive to embed equality included putting postcards around the school asking staff to “send in” their ideas for improving equality.

Head of School and Theoretical Physicist Professor Andy Schofield, who co-led the school’s bid for Champion status, said, "The Juno process has been transformative for the School of Physics and Astronomy over the past few years. It has made a tangible and very positive difference to the way we think about all aspects of School life.

“It means a great deal to see our progress recognised by the award of Juno Champion and it means even more to us as we reap the benefits of the welcoming an inclusive culture within the School."

The Juno initiative, running since 2007, aims to redress the long-standing issue of the underrepresentation of women at all levels of physics academia in the UK and Ireland.

While women make up around 20% of physics undergraduates, this number drops to only 9% further along academia at the level of university professor, suggesting female physicists are much less likely than their male counterparts to progress into the most senior positions in physics. 

The Juno principles improve working culture for all departmental staff, creating, for example, flexible working arrangements, provision for childcare and a more transparent organisational structure.

The ten Champion departments have been pivotal in developing best practice that is shared across the physics community, identifying and tackling the barriers to female career progression.

The potential for improvement has driven high levels of engagement amongst UK physics departments and led to an increase in the number of departments now achieving Juno Practitioner or Champion status.

Encouraging more departments to engage in the Juno project, Jennifer Dyer, Head of Diversity at the IOP, said, “The Institute is here to support all physics departments to embed gender equality in all that they do. Of course, the real, tangible benefit of Juno is creating an inclusive working environment that supports the development and progression of all staff, particularly those in their early career.”

To find out more about becoming a Juno Champion, watch our video