Our gender pay gap is decreasing, and has been for some time, but we need to keep working hard to reduce it further.
We aim to build gender equality monitoring into everything we do. We continuously look for ways of making a positive change and strive to learn from each and every opportunity that we identify. Just some of our areas of focus include:
Supporting our Female Academics
We strive to do everything we can to enable all academic colleagues to work to their full potential. As part of this, we continually review contributing factors, to ensure that our female academics, in particular, feel confident to apply for academic promotion.
We do still have an underrepresentation of females at professor level in particular, which negatively impacts our gender pay gap, but we are working to improve this and have seen some positive improvements.
There’s been a 58% increase in the number of successful female applicants compared to 2015 and 16 new Professors were promoted during the reporting period, 50% of which were female. Our percentage of female Professors has risen from 13% in 2014 to 26% in 2022. This compares to the UK sector benchmark of female professors at 28% (Advance HE Statistical Report 2021).
In addition to investing in our Academic Career Pathways, we continuously benchmark our approach to fairness in pay. As a result, in 2019 we increased our professorial base rate of pay. The increase benefitted 40% of our female professors and 13% of our male professors at the time. This increase continues to benefit academics who join our organisation at, or are promoted to, that level.
Development & Personal Progression
Our sector leading Professional Development Review (PDR) system enables staff to formally have a meaningful conversation regarding their personal development. PDR’s are in addition to our other development initiatives, such as our mentoring program, and for the last 10 years 99% of colleagues have completed their annual PDR.
Since 2012 the number of females working at grade 9 and above, in Professional Services, has more than doubled and represented 53% of this group in 2022.
We also invest in career development and training programs, to specifically assist in closing the gender pay gap. For example, we proudly offer the Aurora Leadership program to our female colleagues. Aurora provides an opportunity for women to influence their institutions and to develop leadership skills, which in turn supports them to progress to higher graded roles.
During this reporting period, the University continued its programme of change following the start of a significant restructure in 2021 with seven colleges and schools merging to form three faculties. As a result of ensuring positive action during this process, the representation of women across the Faculty Executive Teams is gender balanced.
We are one of just 27 UK universities, and the only Welsh University, to hold an Athena Swan Silver Institutional Award. The accreditation recognises advancements of gender equality in terms of representation, progression and success for all.
In addition to our silver institutional award we also hold three silver departmental awards (Engineering, Psychology and Health and Social Care and Medicine) and seven bronze departmental awards (Biosciences, Arts and Humanities, Computational Foundry, Geography, Law, Management and Physics).
Our Athena Swan action plans reinforce our commitment to equality in pay, including improving our gender pay gap.
Mentoring, Networking & Events
Alongside our formal development programmes and schemes, the University places great importance on building women's confidence in the workplace. Whether that be through facilitating networking opportunities; providing mentorship; or encouraging staff-led support groups, we encourage everyone to get involved.
Our Academic Mentors continue to provide valuable support to fellow colleagues, and we’ve seen voluntary participation increase from 21 female and 18 male mentors in 2017/18 to a total of 88 female and 78 male mentors in 2021/22.
During the reporting period of 2021/22 a number of exciting virtual and face to face events took place across the University. Of particular note, was a programme of events to mark International Women’s day in March 2021, which included interactive open conversations, mentoring opportunities and engaging workshops with the aim of celebrating the social, economic and cultural achievements of women within the wider Swansea University community.
We want all colleagues to have the right work-life balance. We invest in our benefits and wellbeing package, which includes our flexible working and family-friendly leave arrangements.
We are proud to be part of the Employers for Carers membership programme, and we were the first Welsh HEI to join This offers access to a range of resources to help us support our staff who juggle work alongside caring responsibilities.
We introduced an agile working policy in response to the COVID19 pandemic. At that time, the policy was beneficial to female colleagues in particular, by increasing flexibility to manage work and personal commitments especially during national school closures. We continue to have an agile policy and have embedded it within the organisation, highlighting our commitment to ensuring colleagues have access to tools and resources to support their work-life balance. In doing this, we hope to remove any barriers that might otherwise prevent people from reaching their full potential, regardless of their gender and life commitments.
Real Living Wage
In June 2020 we proudly became an accredited Real Living Wage employer and implemented the Government’s Real Living Wage salary rate benefiting more than 1000 of our lowest paid employees. This increase benefitted 63% of our female colleagues compared to 37% of male colleagues all of which has contributed to closing the gender pay gap.
The University Voluntary Severance Scheme remained open to colleagues that met the criteria throughout the reporting period. Analysis of colleagues who chose to leave the University via this scheme during the reporting period of April 1st 2020 and 31st March 2021 shows that the majority of women who left were in lower graded roles and the majority of men who left were in higher graded roles, this therefore had a positive impact on closing the gender pay gap.
Recruitment and Reward
We have taken steps to embed positive action when recruiting and remunerating senior academic and senior professional services colleagues. Enhancements were made using sector (UCEA) benchmarking guidance to award salary levels in line with industry specific benchmarks. This process has already positively impacted on our gender pay gap and will continue to do so for years to come.