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Equality and diversity

We provide a friendly and welcoming environment for all of our staff and students.

We have an active Equality and Diversity Committee which has established a number of initiatives to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and can reach their full potential. Our list of Actions proposed to improve our workplace in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion matters is detailed in our Athena Swan Juno Action Plan.

Accessible learning

We provide assistance to students with a diverse range of needs, from Special Learning Disabilities (SpLD) and disabilities requiring additional cognitive support to physical disabilities and sight or hearing loss.

All of our lecture theatres, offices and laboratories are wheelchair accessible and we have Disability Advisers within the School to provide advice and guidance on the range of services available.

LGBT+ community

Cardiff University strives to improve the experience of our LGBT+ staff and students, and we have been continually recognised for our efforts. There is a student LGBT+ Association, a Cardiff University LGBT+ Society (CU Pride) and a very active staff and postgraduate network called ‘Enfys’ (Welsh for ‘Rainbow’).

We are proud to be the top university (ranked 10th out of 100) out of all employers in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2020. We have also been recognised as a Stonewall Top Trans Employer as well as a Diversity Champion.

Widening access

We believe that it is important to ensure that the University is accessible to all groups in the community and that opportunities are available to those which are traditionally under-represented in higher education.

We recognise the benefits in having a talented and diverse student community and we are committed to ensuring equal opportunities for everyone.

We aim to improve diversity and widen access to University by:

  • Undertaking a wide range of engagement activities for schools in order to inspire young people and encourage them to continue to study physics and astronomy, and to consider it as a career.
  • Recruiting a diverse community of students and we welcome applications from students of all backgrounds.
  • Providing help and support to our students to enable them to succeed and to reach their full potential.

Women, black and ethnic minorities in physics and astronomy: Athena Swan Silver status and Juno Champion

Addressing the current gender imbalance in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects is one of our priorities. We foster an environment where female staff and students can flourish and reach their full potential. We actively promote race equality and a system supporting and encouraging any minority to ensure their institutional learning and growth.

We are extremely proud that our commitment to women and minorities in physics has resulted in us being awarded the Athena Swan Silver status and  Institute of Physics Project Juno: Champion status. We are the first university in Wales to achieve recognition for both.

As part of this process we are constantly monitoring our gender and ethnicity balance in many areas, ranging from undergraduate admissions through to the number of female seminar speakers with the aim of identifying any barriers to women, and tackling them as necessary.

The School supports a networking group called TWiSTEM (Trevithick Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for women working on our Trevithick campus along with women from the Schools of Engineering and Computer Science.

Dignity at work

We have a network of Dignity at Work advisers who are trained to provide advice in an informal atmosphere, to any staff members experiencing concerns (see the Dignity at Work flowchart in the related documents). A number of our team identify themselves as providing a safe space for discussion of LGBT+ related issues by wearing rainbow lanyards.

Our current Dignity at Work advisors are:

  • J Emyr MacDonald (Professor) – Condensed Matter and Photonics group
  • Juan Pereiro Viterbo (Lecturer) - Condensed Matter and Photonics group
  • Wendy J Sadler (Senior Lecturer) – Physics Education Research group
  • Andreas Papageorgiou (Research Associate) – Astronomy Instrumentation group
  • Ian Walker (Programme Manager) - Astronomy Instrumentation group.

Flexible working

We welcome applications for flexible working, and operate a core-working hours model where all important meetings are held between 10am and 4pm. We have a School returners scheme for study leave for those who have had a period of time off work due to caring responsibilities or ill health.

Our flexible working arrangements enable staff to achieve an appropriate work/life balance, to obtain professional development qualifications, and consider the need to care for dependents or young families.

Research leave

Our university-wide research leave scheme is available to all staff and provides funding for teaching cover during periods of 6-12 months, focusing on generating high-quality publications and/or impact.

Returning from leave

We offer staff returning from periods of long-term leave additional support and flexibility to minimise the impact of extended leave on the delivery of their duties. This allows them to refresh their skills, knowledge and confidence which enables continued career development.

Case studies

Our staff and students benefit from a number of different arrangements which have been developed to suit their particular circumstances.

Professor Stephen Fairhurst, Director of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Intensive Science

Stephen is part of the Gravitational Astronomy Exploration Institute.

He approached the School to discuss working a four-day week in order to help bring up a young family and to achieve a better work/life balance, while still being able to carry out his University commitments in research, teaching and administration.

“The School was very supportive and there was no problem in setting up the part-time arrangement. There are not many academic staff in the School working part-time, but I find that it suits me very well and that it enables me to lead a more balanced life while still making a significant contribution to the work of the University.”

Stephen finds that he is just as productive during his working hours and the extra day away from work gives him time for his own interests, as well as time to help look after his young family. He makes the effort to keep his free day exactly that, and ensures that he doesn’t check work emails and calls when he isn’t working.

Rhiannon Lunney, PhD Student

Rhiannon suffers from a condition called fibromyalgia which, in her case, stems from a neck injury. She has established a special arrangement which allows her to undertake her PhD over five years instead of four, and by studying four days a week instead of five.

Fibromyalgia affects 2% of the population and is not uncommon, but can cause extreme fatigue, brain fog and pain, especially when sitting for long periods without proper support. Rhiannon has been provided with an ergonomic chair and is allowed to record meetings so that she can refresh her memory later. She also needs to have as much light as possible as fibromyalgia is associated with low mood and depression and so she has been allocated appropriate office space with excellent lighting. She has found staff in the School very understanding and helpful and her supervisors have readily agreed to the special arrangements she needs to do her PhD.

Rhiannon said: “I have been impressed by how accommodating people here have been. My special arrangements help me cope with my condition and the extra day’s leave helps me to rest and recuperate so that I can maintain a normal work/life balance. Otherwise I would have no energy for other everyday activities that students take part in outside their study.”