University of Dundee Gender Equality Plan

Updated on 6 July 2022

An overview of the initiatives to enhance gender equality as part of our overall ambition towards being a fair and equal university for everyone.

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As part of the plans drawn up by the European Commission (EC) to actively promote gender equality (Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025; Gender Equality in the European Research Area), every university from 2022 must have a gender equality plan in order to be eligible for Horizon Europe funding.

This Gender Equality Plan gives an overview of the status at the University of Dundee and describes the initiatives to enhance gender equality as part of our overall ambition towards being a fair and equal university for everyone. This action plan supplements and extends the institutional Athena Swan action plan.

Gender Equality at the University of Dundee

The University of Dundee is committed to advancing equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) for students, staff and community, through the creation of a positive and supportive environment for all.  The embedding of EDI considerations in our strategy through its high-level aims, will see learning and teaching, employment, research and engagement reflect and deliver on the needs of our diverse community.

Gender equality is fundamental to the university’s strategic objectives.  Women comprise 58% of all staff who are employed by the university, and it is recognised that the diversity of our staff contribute to our success.  To reflect this, the university has participated in the Athena Swan charter since 2015 and currently has a Bronze award.  Our next application to this charter will be in 2022 and a comprehensive action plan is currently being developed to address the issues that analysis of internal data has revealed.  However, the university recognises that cultural change to progress gender equality requires more than accreditation of an external charter mark.  This is why the university has publicly committed, through our new strategy to ensure that equity and inclusion is a priority area where the university can achieve significant impact. 

We also recognise that women and people who identify as non-binary are not homogenous groups but consist of individuals with diverse needs.

As a Scottish public body, the University of Dundee is required to comply with existing equality legislation as well as other initiatives by the Scottish Government that support gender equality.  The university has a requirement under the Equality Act 2010 to promote equality, diversity and inclusion through the Public Sector Equality Duty.  This duty requires the university to have due regard to the need to:

  1. Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act, because of a protected characteristic;
  2. Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not; and
  3. Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

The protected characteristics outlined within the Equality Act 2010 are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion and belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

In Scotland, the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (and their subsequent amendments) require the university to undertake steps to evidence their progress in meeting the Public Sector Equality Duty.  To comply with these specific duties the university must:

  1. Report on progress to mainstream the Public Sector Equality Duty in all functions
  2. Develop and publish a set of Equality Outcomes covering all of the protected characteristics
  3. Duty to assess and review policies and practices
  4. Gather and publish information on employees (employee monitoring)
  5. Publish pay gap information on gender, race and disability
  6. Publish statements on equal pay and occupational segregation for gender, race and disability
  7. To consider award criteria and conditions in relation to public procurement
  8. Publish information in a manner that is accessible
  9. Publish the gender composition of the governing body (Court) and provide succession plans to increase diversity

Publication and Official Endorsement of Gender Equality Initiatives

All  our plans and equality documents relating to gender equality (and equality, diversity and inclusion in general) are publicly available on our website. Each plan and document that is published is subject to a governance process (see below) that include sign-off by senior leadership within the university.

All documents relating to gender equality (and equality, diversity and inclusion in general) can be found on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion website.

Additionally, the University Principal provides a specific letter of endorsement as part of our Athena Swan application (redacted copy available). This letter of endorsement commits the university to supporting the Athena Swan principles as well as organisational support to achieve the objectives within the Athena Swan action plan.

Governance on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The University of Dundee’s governance structure in relation to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is as follows.


Diagram showing relationships between decision-making bodies responsible for equality, diversity and inclusion

In the above diagram, The University Court is the overall governing body for all matters relating to equality, diversity and inclusion within the university.  The Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance 2017, states that: “The governing body (Court) must provide leadership in equality and diversity across all protected characteristics, assuming responsibility for the Institution’s strategy and policy on equality and diversity.  This should not only ensure compliance with all relevant legislative and regulatory requirements but also actively promote and facilitate equality and diversity goals across the whole institution.  In addition, the Court must monitor its own composition, establishing appropriate goals and policies regarding the balance and diversity of the members it appoints and regularly reviewing its performance against these goals and policies”.

It is the role of the Court to ensure that the university is meeting its duties under the Equality Act 2010 and that the University goes beyond simply avoiding discrimination, but actively promotes equality through all its functions.  The Court (through delegation to the People and Organisational Development Committee) views, challenges and endorses all related policies, reports and strategic initiatives before publication.

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team are responsible for institutional initiatives and ensuring compliance with equality legislation.  This team provides advice and support to all other functions within the university in relation to embedding and mainstreaming all aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion.

Academic Schools are responsible for ensuring that equality, diversity and inclusion matters that are relevant to their particular academic disciplines are actioned upon to ensure fairness and equity for all staff, students and other stakeholders.  Each Academic School has their own Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to monitor and address any potential areas of concern within their department.

Dedicated Resources

The university has a speciality Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team (FTE 2.8) whose remit is to ensure gender equality (amongst other protected characteristics) is mainstreamed within the university.  The Equality Diversity and Inclusion team offer expertise in equality legislation, equality impact assessments, anti-discrimination practices, intercultural awareness and strategic EDI initiatives.

There is also a Gender-Based Violence Officer (FTE 1.0) employed by the university whose role is to prevent issues of gender-based violence and sexual harassment on campus and to support students if they become victims of abuse.

Both the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Athena Swan oversight group consist of membership of staff from a range of Directorates and Schools and across most job grades and contract types.  The university also encourages student participation in both groups.

Additionally, each academic School within the university has its own Equality, Diversity and Inclusion steering groups that includes representation from senior management within these departments.  There are also staff within School who have responsibility as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion leads who usually have at least 4 hours of their working week allocated to this part of their remit.  This enables Schools to tackle specific issues and ensure that equalities mainstreaming (including gender) is embedded.

Data Collection and Monitoring

As per the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012, the university has a legal obligation to collect data in relation to employee information.  This report was last compiled in April 2021.  Data is collected across all of the protected characteristics but the university is seeking to improve how intersectional data is reported.  Our Employee Information Report 2021 is available on our website and contains information relating to the following:

  • Sex Staff Profile
  • Sex and Grade
  • Sex and Job Categories
  • Sex and Contract Types
  • Sex and Academic Job Role
  • Sex and Recruitment
  • Sex and Academic Promotion
  • Sex and Merit Awards
  • Sex and Leavers
  • Sex and Disciplinary/Grievance action
  • Sex and Training/Personal Development.

The university also collects data on gender identity but this is presently limited to reporting by staff profile only.

The university is also collecting data on the gender composition of recruitment and promotion panels.  This information is analysed on an annual basis to ensure that panels reflect the gender diversity within Schools and the institution.

Gender Equality in Recruitment and Career Progression

Gender data relating to external applicants for jobs at the university are collected after each vacancy, analysed and published every two years.  Current data shows that there has been an increase in women who are applying for, and being successful, in obtaining jobs at the university compared with their male counterparts.

Data is also collected after each annual academic promotion round which shows that women are currently outperforming men when applying for academic promotion.  The university does not have similar data for internal promotions for Professional Services staff but this is currently being considered.

All staff who are required to become members of a recruitment or promotion panel are required to undertake specific training which includes unconscious bias training.

Work is currently being undertaken to ensure that all staff, including part-time staff, are aware of the academic promotion criteria and to ensure that staff are supported when considering making an application.

The university also actively enrols delegates to the Aurora Programme.  This is an external course run by Advance HE to develop the next generation of female leaders within higher education.  Participants on this course  explore four key areas that compromise leadership success:

  1. Identity, Impact and Voice
  2. Core Leadership
  3. Politics and Influence
  4. Adaptive Leadership Skills

Work-Life Balance

The university has a suite of work-life balance policies which are published on our website.  All line-managers receive training on these policies to ensure that they are implemented consistently and fairly.  The university had publicly committed (through our Equality Outcomes Plan 2021-2025) to continually revise our work-life balance policies to ensure that they reflect best-practice and will support the university to achieve our strategic ambitions.

All of the above policies have been reviewed within the last two years to ensure that gender-neutral language has been used throughout these documents.  Each policy has also been subject to an equality impact assessment in order to understand if there may be possible discriminatory effects through the implementation of these policies and what potential mitigation can be put in place to eliminate any concerns.  A list of all equality impact assessments is published on the university’s website.


All members of staff are required to undertake a mandatory course on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion on commencement of their employment.  This course comprises four modules for non-teaching staff or five modules for academic staff who are required to teach.  This course provides the basic requirements that staff are expected to know in relation to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and is conducted online.

The Talent and Development team have a range of training courses that are available to all members of staff that relate to gender equality.  This includes unconscious bias training and gender-based violence reporting. 

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team also deliver equality impact assessment training to staff who are required to complete one of these assessments.  This includes awareness of how to recognise potential indirect discrimination based on gender.

Staff within the university who are involved in either the institutional or departmental Athena Swan awards are also encouraged to attend and participate in training workshops and programmes that are delivered by Advance HE that are directly related to this charter.

Future Actions

The university has recently published its new strategy.  Within this document, there is an objective to review the governance of equality diversity and inclusion within the institution.  This includes an opportunity for a member of the University Executive Group to incorporate a specific remit for gender equality within their role.

As part of the iterative process for Athena Swan, a comprehensive gender equality plan will be updated and published by the University on its website as and when required.  It is the ambition of the university to achieve a Gold Athena Swan award within 10 years that will reflect the university delivering sector-leading practice with regards to gender equality.

Corporate information category Equality and diversity