Now I understand Proust better (but feel less positive about Athena Swan)

You know the story about Marcel Proust and the madeleine – how the memories came flooding back when he nibbled at one with a cup of tea. I always thought this was slightly ridiculous, but perhaps ageing means I now have more memories to recapture.  Suddenly it all made much more sense. And certainly, walking down the back streets of London from Kings Cross to UCL last week, I felt assailed by memories. Not of (or because of) cakes, but of episodes and people which inhabited the streets I was walking past. Memories long buried, many from my teenage London years.

As I crossed in front of Torrington Square I was reminded of the friend I’d made in the London Schools Symphony Orchestra who lived there and was a double bass player (to my viola). I lost touch with her so many years ago when I went to university, hadn’t thought of her in years, but suddenly I wanted to know what happened to this exuberant personality. I walked past the Waterstones, familiar to me in my youth as Dillons – the University of London’s bookstore – a place I always thought was worth popping into, although now it’s just like every other Waterstones in the country. But I also remembered a cheering cup of tea there (no madeleine) with a slightly estranged friend who opened up enough to tell me he and his wife were expecting their first child. Looking over to the tower of the Senate House, I remembered how I used to go there at lunchtimes from my gap year job with the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) to read Nature – goodness knows what I made of it at 17 or 18, but it made me feel grown up. And then there was the Student Union where a group of us would head off for a cheap(ish) lunch the summer I was working at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine during a vacation (though continuing the NCB project on the 1958 cohort, as I wrote about before).

As I approached the venue for my meetings with UCL folk, the memories became less cheering. My first session of the day was held next door to the MacMillan building where my mother had had an emergency blood transfusion a few years ago. UCL’s Cruciform building used to house University College Hospital where I visited both my grandmother, after bone cancer led to a broken hip and a need for it to be pinned urgently (that was the first we knew for sure of the cancer); and also my grandfather after his stroke, where he rapidly became institutionalised by the environment on the ward, making conversation about the world outside incredibly hard. That building was also where I went to get my allergies treated when coming home every vacation caused me to sneeze my head off in misery (with hindsight, I blame the cats at home, but I’d always lived with them so it wasn’t obvious at the time that I might suddenly be allergic to them).

But my day at UCL was not about memories; it was part of their Athena Swan initiative. Kicked off with a session of Q+A with around 25 early career researchers, I was bombarded with keen questions. The one that stumped me was ‘what single action would you like to be able to carry out, given the opportunity?’ Because of course if one thing could transform the world for women and men, to bring genuine equality about, then it would already have been done. It is, rather, the need to change so many parts of the system that is the problem: appointment and promotion procedures and criteria; reporting and handling bullying, harassment and worse; child care provision; long hours culture…the list goes on and I’m sure every reader can add more points of their own.

I have long been an enthusiastic champion of the Athena Swan Awards, but I am getting more and more uncomfortable with the workload imposed on those who take the local lead. Too often it is a junior woman on whom this load is dumped.  Whoever gets to take this on may be – as my host for the day and fellow Occam’s Typewriter blogger Jenny Rohn is – totally committed, but what recognition do they get for all their efforts? Do they get their time bought out, statistical or other administrative support and a gold star in their application for their next promotion because of all their hard work? Unfortunately, the answer to all those questions is all too often a resounding no.  Even worse, if they are relative junior, how much change can they make to a unit’s practices, however obviously imperfect they may be? It needs the senior leadership to carry the burden, someone whose word really can effect change.

When Athena Swan started it was exclusively directed towards the STEM disciplines and, after a few initial teething problems (which Cambridge, as an early adopter, certainly encountered) it seemed relatively light touch and non-bureaucratic. But as the process has assumed more importance, it has also assumed more rigidity whilst simultaneously giving – to me at least – the impression that the level of awards is not always consistent. There seems too much emphasis on ‘novelty’, not enough on things that might be anything but novel, but are proven to work. I am aware of departments winning silver awards, either because the author can write a good case, or because they have made a lot of progress from a very low base, yet which are actually less favourable as a place of work for women than departments which fail to get their bronze award renewed. I have heard stories that make me very worried that, now the awards cover all disciplines and a broader take on diversity at all levels, there is less scope for genuine reflection about local circumstances and too much emphasis on what looks like a ‘tick box’ mentality. Given that I once wrote a post for the Guardian saying absolutely the opposite, I feel very worried by these trends.

I hope others can convince me I’m wrong in my increasing feeling of discomfort with the process, because I wholeheartedly believe in its aspirations. But currently I feel it has become overwhelmed by, if you like, its own success, becoming large and influential but perhaps no longer agile and responsive. As UKRI take over the oversight of diversity issues, I am optimistic they will pay careful attention to the way Athena Swan now works. I know this is an issue close to Phil Nelson’s heart (the current Research Council chair who will take the diversity lead in the new UKRI structures) and I am glad already to have had the opportunity to discuss some of these issues with him. For everyone, men and women alike, it is important that inclusion really works for all and that the historical inequalities in academic STEM departments get swiftly eradicated.

 

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29 Responses to Now I understand Proust better (but feel less positive about Athena Swan)

  1. Junior Female Academic says:

    I’m afraid I agree. As a newly promoted, junior, female member of staff I was inevitably tasked with applying for our Bronze renewal, with very little support from the rest of the School/senior management team. No one had done much between the two applications, so I had to try and pull four years worth of work together in under six months all whilst learning a completely new role; I of course did very little if any research during this time. I have very mixed feelings about the ensuing failure of our application. Did we as a School deserve the award? Probably not, although we/I had made significant progress. But I did then feel like the huge amount of work I had personally put in was wasted, and certainly went unacknowledged by most of the School, and we are again focussed on getting the paperwork sorted, rather than putting into place any of the actions which might actually start to help. The sheer burden of the application (80 or so pages of data, both quantitative and qualitative, analysis and reflection) is actually harming the careers of the academics this falls on, who are predominantly young women. These same women are then expected to drive through huge changes with senior leadership only giving lip service to support.

    I do still think that the intentions here are good and necessary, but I don’t think the current processes are having the desired effect. I don’t know what the alternative is though!

  2. Female professor says:

    My experience with Athena SWAN has been poor. In my university it is indeed women (and not just junior women) who take on most of the work of Athena SWAN, for very little recognition. Athena SWAN involves a lot of work but simply does not get the same recognition in terms of teaching reduction etc that other administrative roles have. I have done other senior jobs in academia (head of department) and Athena SWAN is the one that had the most detrimental effect on my own research.

    There is also a tension between making a strong case for getting the award and acknowledging gender issues – women often feel they have to cover up issues that affect them personally, because otherwise the application would fail and they would be blamed (and their careers might suffer). And I have seen many women in my university struggle emotionally with writing sections of Athena SWAN applications that relate to their own bad experiences. It is incredibly hard to write about promotions procedures, maternity leave etc when you yourself have been declined support for promotion by your department for discriminatory reasons or when you have been bullied into working on maternity leave.

    I agree with the previous comment that those leading on Athena SWAN often do not have the support of the departmental leadership – but are then nonetheless blamed for not driving through the changed required to get or maintain awards.

  3. Another junior female academic says:

    I had a near identical experience to Junior Female Academic. Tasked to co-chair the first departmental application of the place I worked, I put in a huge amount of work, supported by some enthusiastic others (primarily women), but it was very much a tick box exercise for senior management. The application failed, primarily due to an administrative problem (Athena Swan acknowledged that they had failed to ensure consistent treatment of applications from my unusual institution). It meant that all the hours I had put in were largely wasted. I left the organisation not much after, and I am almost certain no-one at my new organisation values this bit of admin on my CV. I have learnt a lot in the process, so it wasn’t all wasted time. But could I have used the time more effectively to climb the academic career ladder? Yes. Have things actively improved at my previous institution due to the work I set up (a bronze award has since been made)? I’m not sure.

  4. Yet another junior academic says:

    I was at a university where I was involved in the first successful university level bronze award bid. The first try didn’t succeed and I was asked to join to broaden the diversity and experiences of the SAT. As the first application failed and lack of university buy-in by higher ups was cited as a reason, there actually was some high level take up of the precepts during my time. I feel that some of the concepts were actually introduced to senior people who’d never heard of or thought about them before, so some good points. There was a university wide audit of committees and structures and a part of the assessment became the number of women on the committees. I pointed out the difficulties of getting parity by overcommitting all the same senior women. I don’t know if it had an effect. Also a bunch of people had unconscious bias training, though I’m not sure how good it was, I wasn’t impressed, but then I was previously well aware of the field. On the other hand, there was so much paperwork and lots of people spent a lot of time on it. It did end up being successful, but were any changes seen on the ground? Not that I could see.

    I started a permanent post at a new university recently where they’d also failed their initial bronze application, I very purposefully said, no thank you to joining. A new senior lecturer really doesn’t have the time!

  5. Early Career Researcher says:

    I’ve been trying to get more involved with our department’s Equality & Diversity in general. The thing I find disappointing and disheartening is I’m yet to come across anything starting from the base in senior management of “how can we get credit in Athena Swan for all this great diversity & equality work we’re doing?”, it’s always “what can we do to strengthen our application?” The tail definitely seems to be wagging the dog, and I wonder if the benefits gained from Athena Swan focusing minds on E&D is starting to be outweighed by the cynicism of places not trying to primarily improve equality, but only doing what they have to in order to get points for Athena Swan?

  6. Kathy Rastle says:

    On balance, Athena Swan has been positive for my department. Working through the process over the past 10 years, we’ve come a long way in respect of women in the academic staff. We’ve addressed what was a substantial pay gap, and through design of new promotions processes and criteria, we now have over 50% women in the professoriate. The process has also helped us to consider more subtle issues, for example whether there are gender differences in start up packages or pump priming awards, or in the type of service and leadership work that colleagues are assigned. Finally, the process has helped us to link up with other institutions in developing beacon activities that should impact on our discipline generally. Having said that, the process seems to have gotten quite a bit more involved in recent years, and is now considering all groups of staff and students, and all forms of equality and diversity. This is frustrating because it makes the process a moving target (will we ever achieve gold?), and I feel that we’ve lost some focus. I also agree that the time required to prepare a submission is virtually overwhelming. I think that any HoD who asks a junior colleague to lead this just hasn’t been involved in preparing a submission (our lead is a male professor supported by a number of other colleagues). Further, even after preparation of the submission, it takes knowledge and deep commitment at the top of the dept and institution to drive through meaningful change.

  7. Professional Services Woman says:

    As a young woman in professional services I was responsible for supporting academic staff in developing the application for a departmental silver award.

    As a feminist I was excited to work on the project – I thought it would achieve real change. However, it was just a tick box, case studies were deliberately picked and there was very little longer term cultural change in favour of women.

    When Athena Swan became linked to research funding in some cases, the chair of the SAT was taken over by a more senior male academic as it was seen as something of consequence.

    Saying that – I think it might be the best tool we have at the moment but I think there needs to be a rethink and some critical reflection on how an institution operates as a gendered space. I also think that some consideration on career progression for professional services women would be helpful!

  8. Junior female academic #4 says:

    I agree that the award application process is an enormous burden for (usually) a junior female academic who (usually) won’t get enough credit for it. However, I think there is something to be said for Athena Swan as a stick (or perhaps a carrot?) to beat the establishment with. I recently asked for a talk that was considered essential departmental business to happen at lunchtime, rather than at 5pm (and always running late) interfering with people’s childcare arrangements. I think this would usually have been ignored… except that we’re applying to renew our Athena Swan award. I pointed to “core business in core hours” and got the time changed.

  9. Early-ish physicist. says:

    I am a Lecturer in a Physics Department and a man. With the aid of the head of the Department I set up (2013) our first Athena Swan team and lead our first, unfortunately unsuccessful, departmental application, with new team members we now have a Bronze award and are thinking about Silver. I was also involved with my University’s successful renewal of it’s Bronze award. I withdrew from all Athena Swan teams a year ago.

    AS has been a force for good and I feel has helped change my Department for the better. We have carefully chosen actions that we feel are right for us and out position, but perhaps not quite aligned with AS. From arguing the case back in 2013, now AS is just taken for granted in our Department, that is, it is just another committee doing good work alongside the research committee etc. We have also nearly none of the original members left on the AS committee. This was a pivotal moment to see if others would take on the role and push for more change – they did and with some energy.

    There are many annoying bureaucratic problems with AS, not least gathering all the stats, but my Uni has now the University level resources in place to year by year produce the statistics needed at the Uni and Dept level.

    One reasons for leaving the AS team was I felt it was too dilute, too powerful and not transparent enough. I used to pitch it as having the aim to “ensure we have more women Profs in the future”. As is starkly a problem in the STEMM subjects. Opening AS to non-academic staff feels wrong to me, AS should be about addressing Profs and all the various road that lead to that. Taking our eye off that ball will obfuscate and play down the structural, societal, problems that Depts have. I’m not saying that, for example, support staff don’t need addressing, but not through AS. We should keep it for Profs.

    As for leading, I was a new Lecturer wanted to set AS up in our Dept. To the detriment of my research etc., I then handed over to our Director of Resources, a senior lecturer, who led a successful Bronze award. Now we have a Reader leading with their fresh ideas.

    AS is just normal in our Department and many of the actions taken are ow “just the way it is”, not AS actions. It has been excellent, although personally i feel now to dilute and too bureaucratic.

    • Early-ish physicist. says:

      Just to reply to myself, when I say “for profs”, I mean anyway we can Profs to more reflect society, mostly that means getting more women Lecturers, prize fellows etc. and then their career will get them to prof as much as anyone else. So I feel also that that should be AS focus, how to recruit fairly.

      • Committed Technician says:

        Early-ish physicist. – as a member of technical staff I welcome with open arms the more inclusive nature of the new Athena Swan rules. It wasn’t very inclusive not including us for all that time! There is a national technician shortage, and this is not helped by the lack of promotion/regrading in Technical roles (which still doesn’t exist).

        Perhaps this issue would have been better placed outside the remit of Athena Swan, but it is an important inequality issue that was being swept under the carpet in Universities across the country for at least a decade. I am certain that including Technicians in the Athena Swan Process has helped the chance of it getting addressed in the near future (Technician’s Commitment for example: http://technicians.org.uk/techniciancommitment/) even if this inequality is one of role, rather than gender!

  10. Peter Coles says:

    I think much of the problem here is not with Athena Swan itself (though I agree it is not perfect) but that many departments do not have a proper way of allocating workload and too often equality and diversity issues are regarded as extras not as part of the core activity of an academic.

  11. Thanks all for the responses – and over Twitter. It is clear that I have struck a chord and many of my thoughts about Athena Swan are widely held – particularly the issue of the workload and who it is given to, plus the fact there is little recognition necessarily given for the work. One Twitter comment even implied the blame was given to the (junior) lead if failure ensued, but the department took the credit for a successful outcome.

    To Peter’s last point, the volume is down to the Athena Swan process and is in their hands to change. The implementation it is easy to blame on individual institutions, but Athena Swan could perhaps set expectations as to who does the work and what recognition they get for it in a workload model. Indeed it could even be part of the evaluation, which would probably focus minds.

    I do think this is a wider debate that needs to be had by those with oversight of the process. It wasn’t actually my intention to kickstart that debate (as the start of the post shows, it was just my reflections on a busy day at UCL), but I am not sorry if it provokes people to think more generally.

  12. Junior female academic #5 says:

    Thank you for raising this — it’s fantastic to see folks seriously and publicly engaging with the problems surrounding Athena Swan. (Including senior men in my field!)

    I’ve been fairly negative about Athena Swan ever since I joined my current department — which has a Bronze Award, but is *incredibly* toxic towards women (and various under-represented minorities). I have no idea how it managed to qualify, nor do I know what’s going to happen when the department needs to renew (or applies for Silver), though I suppose if I stick around I’ll eventually find out. Do folks just lie about things like holding departmental meetings during core business hours? In contrast, my previous department failed its AS application, but was a great place to be a female academic. The inconsistency is mind-boggling.

  13. Junior mathematician says:

    As a (junior, male) academic I was involved in our dept’s successful AS Bronze application. I felt the process did a good job of exposing areas where our department could improve, and management were very supportive — right up until we got the award. Then suddenly it became the responsibility of the AS working group to make changes happen, with no power or resources to get anything done. (Meanwhile management are cheerfully lying in various strategy documents about how the recommendations have been implemented.)

    We’re up for renewal this year and I’m hoping we’re unsuccessful because otherwise nothing is going to change. The trouble is that I suspect it’ll be the AS group who take the hit rather than the senior people who’ve failed to back us up.

  14. Working as a PhD student at The Francis Crick Institute, which – to my knowledge – does not currently hold an Athena Swan award, I can’t comment too much on this aspect. (And now I’m no longer sure the award is necessarily worth striving for!)

    However, with respect to the Waterstones on Gower Street, which is ‘just like every other Waterstones in the country’, I’d like to disagree. It is still the largest academic bookshop in Europe (not much longer in the EU…) and has a range of second-hand books, which is not the norm in other Waterstones branches. In any case, books are always a good thing, (almost) everywhere you buy them from!

  15. London academic says:

    Athena, this is a great reflection, I particularly enjoyed the first part. Being a Londoner myself and bringing up two girls in Kentish Town i relate very much to it.
    The modus operandi of the AS is indeed shared across most of our activities in our departments. Too often we get trapped by the ticking box exercise, forgetting why we have the committee/meeting in the first place. I blame some of such a clerical torture to the orribile metric we’re forced to embrace. Silver, Bronze, gold…1 to 10, A*, A** and so on…, sometimes I think a more draconian pass or fail would make our life easier as long as we set the right threshold. One thing we agree that when it comes to equality this should be very high!

  16. Junior academic says:

    I’ve spent time in a department with excellent gender balance, maternity leave support, and all-round positive atmosphere, and they can’t tick enough boxes to get beyond bronze. I’ve also spent time in a department with a silver award, where sexual harassment was covered up and went unpunished, and the atmosphere was toxic.

    My experience of Athena Swan is that it rewards the departments that make quick superficial changes that paper over their problems, and penalises the departments that take an honest look at themselves and work to tackle the roots of the problem.

  17. other early career researcher says:

    I feel goalposts move all the time at Athena Swan. What got you an award a year or two ago, is now nowhere near enough. It makes it harder to progress on to the next level, as it is difficult to tell people higher-up (the uni leadership) exactly what you require to make that step happen.
    It’s rather demotivating at times.
    And there’s definitely some departments that just threw a bucketload of cash at it, I had a giggle reading some of their cases (many departments have them easily available online).

  18. Mid-career female academic says:

    I’ve been involved in Athena SWAN for quite a few years and am committed – I’ve been a panel member and I was the lead on our successful dept Silver award. I feel that it has been good for our dept and has brought about change (well I would say that…) but I think others in my dept feel the same. Our university gives 0.1FTE to the Athena SWAN leads but this was still not enough when I was preparing our application, I basically spent a week of a family holiday in Italy on it while my husband took the kids to the beach – not what I would call work-life balance, and that was just one chunk, it blew out most of my non-teaching time for 3 months. I am strongly of the opinion that there’s need to be a section on the application form that details exactly who did what and the time that was allocated, with an explanation of how release from other duties was arranged so as to not disadvantage the female academics who bear the burden. I have brought this up at various Athena SWAN gatherings but so far not seen it picked up – maybe this thread might cause ECU to act – if anyone from ECU is reading please think about how you might respond to all the valuable points raised here.

    • Junior Female Academic (as above) says:

      I think having to give time/buy out information would help a lot. I spent four months solid including the entire Easter holiday, and was as mentally and physically destroyed as when i was completing my PhD afterwards. I had time (allegedly) to do that as I had a low teaching load as i was holding a First Grant at the time. Whilst i did point this out to the Head of department, i think seeing it in black and white on the form might have helped it sink in.

  19. Yet another female academic says:

    Deep and meaningful culture changes require serious, sustained commitment from the management and a genuine interest in improving the situation for everyone.

    Unfortunately short-termism and tick-box fever kick in. One of the major symptoms: committee madness! Because it’s a “low hanging fruit”, as I’ve heard so many times before.

    Horrendous if you are in an engineering/physics/tech environment – you might have 1 or 2 female academics in the department that *need* to be in nearly every single interview panel for every single post (PhD students, post-docs, academics, etc). Or needs to be in nearly every single committee (particularly those that don’t really matter that much or those that lead to important decisions). It’s bonkers.

    This gets even less recognition than being an Athena Swan Lead because your time is just dissipated in a million tiny ways with little impact. And obviously harmful for the careers of those that should be supported more.

    The fact that females in STEM are also probably spending a lot more time doing outreach for the sake of inspiring future generations is also not recognised (despite the fact that there is usually a high level of encouragement to do it).

  20. Female professional staff says:

    Fortunately my institution was able to throw some resources at this, and I did most of the ‘legwork’ for our application. Of course I didn’t do it on my own – and the helpful input I got was mainly from some very committed female academic colleagues – but at least it meant that they didn’t have to spend the hours and hours developing a narrative, researching and cherry picking (yes) statistics, refining prose and absorbing all the technical requirements of the application process. And it’s not bad for my career – actually quite a positive. It took a huge amount of time – so lucky for us that we could resource it so that it was a positive (for me) rather than a negative for someone else. But was it really intended that it should be this way…?

  21. Susan Lea says:

    The process of going for silver once seemed like a useful way for our department to reflect on where we were at – the need to then try and show real change and further improvement at short intervals to keep the award now seems forced and of no real value to the local culture

  22. Another male academic says:

    I took a lead in developing an Athena SWAN application in a social sciences because I am a man. There were to aspects of this for me: I am a feminist, and the scheme aligned with my principles; and secondly I was taking this on just as the issue of AS being a burden on women was coming to the fore. I approached it as “taking one for the girls” (excuse my language) – holding back my own career by doing a major piece of work to support women’s careers. However, I was also acutely aware that my lead in this work would get me more kudos within the organisation than if a woman had done the work as it would be “expected” that women should do this work. A double-bind of everyday sexism.

    I’ve stepped back from AS now for many of the reasons discussed above. I’m also frustrated that the social sciences seem to think they are ok – that it is fine to have a undergraduate programme with 99 per cent female students and that this is a problem that cannot be solved by action by individual departments. I was also aware that the actual cultural change that AS is meant to deliver just was not happening – apart from a few cheerleaders like myself; and we could not do everything to make our department work well for women.

    Finally, and this picks up on the tick-box point, I was frustrated that AS had become a University strategic goal and was thus being imposed on departments, rather than being bottom-up. This was in a context of a wider strategy that was completely opposed to the wider principles of AS, and in particular has led to the lowest paid, women workers in my institution being treated incredibly poorly.

    I see the value of audit and action plans within bureaucracy, but as Sara Ahmed discusses in Living a Feminist Life, sometimes hitting your head against a brick wall to try and deliver equality through organisational processes just becomes too much. Then active resistance seems to be the more productive way to proceed.

  23. I have just learned that ECU are planning a ‘task and review’ group to look at the whole Athena Swan process. David Rubain, head of ECU, has just published a blogpost about this here. I feel this offers a real opportunity to streamline the process and, I hope, reduce the impact of the issues I raise here.

  24. Steve says:

    I wish people would focus less on the award and more on making real changes, which comes about through true reflection on how you do business. There should be no formulas for this. The award(s) will come because of the change, more as a symptom of positive efforts.

  25. Former researcher (male) says:

    A bit late to the party, as I tried to post a reply earlier this week but had technical issues.

    Some thought-provoking comments in the post and thread. I look forward to seeing more details of ECU’s review.

    As someone who has been an AS panelist for a few years, I thought I’d post a few quick comments, which are to add to (rather than counter) those written above:

    – my impression is that the quality of applications submitted has improved over time, but that the expectation of what should be included to gain an award has risen. Certainly, initiatives and ideas (in all areas covered under the Charter) that were once rare are now common. Panelists have to take what is written on face value, but if some of these initiatives are being implemented then it would at least indicate positive changes are being made across the sector.

    – writing quality of the submission should not be what it is judged upon, but poorly written submissions with inappropriately interpreted data and/or badly drafted conclusions are challenging to read, and suggest the issues are not been considered in sufficient depth. I appreciate that the burden on those writing the submissions can be large, and this has to be a concern (and is often picked up in panels).

    – I welcome the inclusion of non-academic staff into the process. Firstly, it is important to consider how all staff in a department are treated and what opportunities are open to them. Secondly, professional and technical staff are often subject to clearer implementation of centralised HR policies, which can be less well-defined for academics and researchers. As one thought, some departments might be wise to consider cross-over between the experiences of professional/technical staff who have, for example, been on maternity leave, when developing policies and practice for the first member of academic staff to take leave in many years!

    – One aspect that doesn’t seem to have shifted over the years is the engagement of men in the process, particularly in the self-assessment teams. Of course, many men in senior roles, eg Head of School, departmental manager, sit ex officio on SATs, and in one dept I worked in the SAT was chaired by a very enthusiastic, passionate male prof. However, in general, SATs remain female heavy and, disappointingly, I still see too few younger men involved. Perhaps this reflects a bigger, societal problem as gender issues are still too often viewed as the domain of women, but I want more men to see this as there concern too.