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This year International Women's Day is being celebrated under the banner of 'Be bold for change'. Universities around the country are taking part in celebrations to promote the delivery of equality for women and to forge a better working world with gender inclusivity.

The Athena SWAN charter recognises advancement of gender equality through representation, progression and success for all. It was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. This is what the SPCR partner universities are doing to celebrate the day.  Kate Ellis talks about her research at the end of this piece.

Newcastle University: The Institute of Health & Society were first awarded Athena Silver Award in April 2011. This was renewed in September 2016. International Women's Day will be celebrated at Newcastle University with talks on the Inspirational Women of the North-East England project.  

University of Nottingham: The School of Medicine received Athena Silver Award in April 2016. Read more and view testimonials.

UCL: The Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care first received an Athena Silver Award in 2006. It was renewed in 2009 and again in 2013. They are now hoping to achieve Gold Award.

University of Manchester: Part of the University's Medical School the Institute of Population Health holds an Athena Silver Award which they received in 2015.

University of Southampton: The Faculty of Medicine obtained Silver status in 2015. The Primary Care and Population Sciences Unit holds its own Athen Swan mini self-assessment team which received feedback from the unit to inform two seminar from HR covering flexible working, parental leave, promotions and career planning. 

We interviewed 39 women scientists all working at Oxford. The aim of the project was to provide support to women making career decisions, by offering them the opportunity to explore a broad range of experiences shared by other women through video interviews.
- University of Oxford

University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences received Athena Silver status in May 2014. The university is celebrating Women in Science which includes an interview with Dame Sally Davies. 

University of Cambridge's  Department of Public Health and Primary Care  were awarded Silver in April 2013. The university is celebrating the day with a lecture: A Question of Honour. Hosted by the Vice-Chancellor, Jasvinder Sanghera CBE joins Dr Matthew Maycock and Norah Al-Ani from CRCC to talk about acting in the name of honour, with life-changing consequences. Read more.

Keele University is holding a series of events to celebrate the day. 

The University of Bristol have highlighted five alumnae who are helping to pave the way for women in traditionally male-dominated industries. Professor Gene Feder asked whether healthcare professionals are engaging with domestic violence in a talk at the Women's Health Conference in Bristol.

SPCR Funded doctoral student 

Kate Ellis at the Cambridge Primary Care Unit, said:   ‘International Women’s Day presents a call to action to accelerate gender equality. Its existence is testament to the fact that gender inequality is still commonplace across the world. My area of research focuses on physical activity where there is a significant gender gap in participation where boys/men are more active than girls/women. My PHD will focus on interventions to increase physical activity among postnatal women (up to twelve months following childbirth). During the postnatal period, women are reforming habits and are adjusting to a new routine and role as a mother. It is a critical time period for intervention because physical activity levels are lower than pre-pregnancy with fatigue, lack of time and lack of childcare cited as common reasons why women do not participate in physical activity at this time of life. During my PhD I plan on conducting interviews with postnatal women to explore their current views of physical activity and ideas for palatable physical activity interventions. Using these findings, I will develop and pilot a postnatal physical activity intervention to contribute to the research on narrowing the gender participation gap in physical activity’.


Before joining the Primary Care Unit, Kate worked as an Information Officer at the British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health providing information, support and advice for professionals working in physical activity. Prior to this, Kate completed an MSc in Physical Activity and Public Health and a BSc Sport and Exercise Science at Loughborough University.

Research Interests

Kate is currently in her first year of her PhD in the Primary Care Unit under the supervision of Professor Stephen Sutton. She is interested in increasing physical activity in the postnatal population and her PhD will focus on developing and piloting a physical activity intervention for postnatal women.



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