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Gender Equality Award for the ICR


Monday 17 August 2009


Athena SWAN Charter

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) is pleased to have been recognised for its focus on improving efforts to recruit, support and promote talented female scientists.


The Athena SWAN awards are given to universities and research organisations that are committed to advancing the careers of women in science, engineering and technology. It recognises and celebrates organisations that strive to adopt good employment practice in this area.


The award acknowledges that the ICR has carefully researched issues relating to the career progression of women in academic science, and compiled a meaningful action plan to address them. To qualify, the organisation had to demonstrate action plans to provide positive support for women at key career transition points, and show efforts were being made to include women in decision making.


Measures already in place at the ICR to improve gender equality include equal pay reviews held every five years and a seminar, compulsory for all staff, promoting equality in the workplace. The organisation is also striving to be more family-friendly, offering a range of benefits to staff with caring responsibilities including a tax-free salary sacrifice scheme to provide childcare vouchers, and an approach to flexible working and maternity leave which exceeds statutory requirements. 


“I am very proud that the ICR has committed to developing policies that will support its female staff,” the ICR’s Director of Enterprise Dr Susan Bright says. “Highly talented women can be lost from the sciences if they do not receive support at crucial points of their career, particularly for women in the early child rearing years. The loss of these experienced women is a tragedy, not just for the careers of the women concerned but for the whole of the community, and the ICR is determined to avoid this as much as possible.”


Across the UK in 2006/07, only 8.1 per cent of professors in science, engineering and technology were women, with the highest proportion found in anatomy and physiology departments (14.7 per cent) and pharmacy and pharmacology (15.2 per cent). At the ICR in 2006/07 18 per cent of professors were women, and that figure has since risen to 21 per cent.  Overall, 59 per cent of staff and students at the ICR are women.


The number of women on the ICR’s board of trustees also compares very favourably with other institutions (six women and seventeen men), and the Athena SWAN judges singled out the ICR’s appointment of an Equality Champion at board level for particular commendation.


The ICR was assessed on a report submitted by a team comprising Dr Bright, Professor Steve Webb, Dr Michelle Garrett, Professor Caroline Springer, Professor Laurence Pearl, Dr Lara Bethke, Dr Emma Davenport and Dalemari Crowther.


The ICR joins a field of 53 universities and their individual departments in the UK to have been recognised under this scheme. The award will be officially presented in Birmingham on September 29.


Receiving the Athena SWAN Charter Bronze Award, the first of three consecutive levels of recognition, qualifies each separate research section at the ICR or potentially the organisation as a whole to apply for silver awards in the next round.


Notes for editors:

Further information on the ICR’s submission can be accessed at




Media Contact: email Jane Bunce or phone 0207 153 5106


The Institute of Cancer Research

The Institute of Cancer Research is Europe’s leading cancer research centre with expert scientists working on cutting-edge research. In 2009, the ICR marks its 100 years of groundbreaking research into cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. In December 2008, the ICR was ranked as the UK’s leading academic research centre by the Times Higher Education’s Table of Excellence, based on the results of the Higher Education Funding Council’s Research Assessment Exercise. The ICR is a charity that relies on voluntary income. It is one of the world’s most cost-effective major cancer research organisations with more than 95p in every £ directly supporting research. For more information visit

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