D7 - Athena SWAN and the Concordat to support the career development of researchers - Action research and navigating converging paths

Day 2 at 13:40 - Athena SWAN and the Concordat to support the career development of researchers - Action research and navigating converging paths
Day Day 2
Session D
Start time 13:40

Research staff / talent development

Code D7

Dr Naomi Irvine, Research Staff Development Advisor, University of Leicester 

Dr Kate Williams, Senior Research Fellow, Health Sciences, University of Leicester 

Workshop overview: 

HEIs are increasingly called upon to demonstrate their commitment to researcher development, and to equality and diversity, as evidenced through accreditation mechanisms, namely the HR Excellence in Research Award, and Athena SWAN submissions (although there will be links with the Race Equality Charter, Stonewall and others). These two accreditation mechanisms are mutually supporting, and call for collaboration across academic, research and professional services roles; researcher developers – those involved in the development of PGRs and research and academic staff – arguably perform a pivotal role in this collaboration. The challenge for HEIs is to identify the initiatives that are mutually supporting, recognise the synergies between them (and draw together the staff engaged in them) and develop core activities that strengthen both. In turn, researcher developers need to position themselves as brokers between Concordat and Athena SWAN activities. This workshop shares emergent approaches at the University of Leicester to explore the potential of action research and its relationship to synergistic activities. In particular, to:

  • explore the overlaps between the Concordat and Athena SWAN 
  • explore methods of mapping organisational cultures
  • provide a means of articulating meaningful change
  • evidence the quality and impact of interventions    
  • build stronger collaborative teams to deliver organisational change

Workshop topics covered: 

  • key features of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and Athena SWAN
  • action research methods and the transferability of their role in investigating organisational cultures
  • mainstreaming equality and diversity in researcher development practices

Themes covered:

  • Engaging research leaders, principal investigators and supervisors to transform professional development of researchers and embed professional development in the research environment 
  • Developing a pipeline of research talent, including widening participation, strategies to attract and retain research talent, and approaches to mainstreaming equality and diversity for researchers in the research environment 

Workshop outcomes: 

As a result of attending, participants will be able to:

  • identify and articulate the areas of overlap between the Concordat and Athena SWAN
  • build a clear case for activities that strengthen both Concordat and Athena SWAN practice at an institutional and departmental level
  • critique action research methods and the ways in which they can be used to surface organisational culture in relation to equality and diversity
  • participate in a network to develop synergies and embedding of mutually supporting activities


Information, interaction and discussion. Participants will be asked to share elements of their organisational practice in order to assess the transferability of action research methods in E and D and Concordat practice.