Status of Bronze Action Plan implementation: 

RAG Colour Code 


Number of Bronze Actions 

Percentage of Bronze Actions 


Actions we did not manage to implement in the reporting period




Actions initiated but not completed to our satisfaction.  




Completed Actions. KMi has good systems in place, which will evolve as needed as more evidence is gathered.





The Open University. Knowledge Media Institute.  

Athena Bronze 2017 Actions and Status

(* indicates highest priority) 

Action Ref with RAG codes 

Planned Action objective 

Remarks on Status 

1. Evidence gathering and reporting


Establish an annual monthly cycle of SAT meetings  

The Athena SWAN team ensures that actions are being taken forward and that lessons learned from these actions are being documented.  


Establish an annual cycle of SAT and reporting schedule to departmental management team as part of our monthly Management Board meetings

The Management Board of the department is informed and involved in the Athena SWAN initiatives and considers issues of gender equality and diversity routinely as part of all decisions.

1.3 *

Establish an annual cycle of SAT and reporting schedule to the entire department as part of our tri-monthly town meetings.

The complete department is informed and involved in all the Athena SWAN initiatives

1.4 *

Investigate possibilities to obtain additional budget for Athena SWAN activities via EU and national funding programs.

We applied for funding to two external sources, but unsuccessfully. Instead, we have made extensive use of KMi’s non-staff budget for our Athena activities.


Investigate a way of incorporating part-time staff data as part of our data collection.

We are now able to generate a spreadsheet with part-time staff data within KMi.


Put in place a system for regularly collecting and reviewing gender data on the recruitment, progression and attainment of students.  

We now maintain within KMi a spreadsheet with gender data about recruitment, completions and dropouts of PhD studentships.  


Revise the current OU induction for members of staff and add KMi-specific and complementary information (especially information on our Athena SWAN activities), particularly regarding permanency, promotion and awards (see Action Plan 4.1). Include information about the women at OU network, a voluntary network to empower existing and potential women leaders and managers in the University.

We have introduced new KMi-specific designed content to the induction package, including specific KMi Athena SWAN activities, but we wish to go further and cover KMi and OU cultural expectations, including EDIA and research ethics.

2. Undergraduate and postgraduate (PG) students 


Investigate reasons for low recruitment of part-time female postgraduate research students. Survey and interview current part-time students (all genders) to explore their experiences. Use the results of this study to inform further actions

We have gender balanced our recruitment of part-time students, which made this action redundant. We will instead as part of our Silver action survey all PhD students on what support we can offer them with respect to beginning an academic career.

2.2 *

Investigate reasons for students dropping their PhD studies and the different factors that affect male and female students. Use the results of this study to inform further actions.

We have only had two instances of students dropping out, and we understand the circumstances. We propose to systematically conduct exit interviews in the future.


Identify points of contact with different STEM departments at the OU to target female Master students when advertising KMi PhD positions. Liaise with 2.1, 2.4, and 2.5 to develop a strategic approach to recruitment.

We have reached out to these contacts. We now receive more high quality applications from women than we can fund.


Identify points of contact with women Associate Lecturers, within the STEM faculty, but also in other working groups and communities of practice, such as WomenAtOU on Yammer. Liaise with 2.1, 2.3 and 2.5 to develop a strategic approach to recruitment.

We have reached out to these contacts. We now receive more high quality applications from women than we can fund.


Improve the KMi website recruitment pages and postgraduate area.  Provide information on all the opportunities available. Consider how we can signpost/advertise these opportunities more effectively

We have substantially improved our website in these respects, and diversified our advertising.


Consideration of gender in the allocation of third-party monitors. Ensuring all female students have the opportunity of female 3rd party monitor if they have an all male supervision team

Female PhD students are now given the opportunity to have a woman as part of their supervision/third party monitoring team

3. Recruitment 

3.1 *

Identify websites, groups and institutions dedicated to women in STEM. Use the created list to promote KMi positions through those channels.

We have made some progress in identifying these, but we are not systematically using all these avenues for all our positions.  

3.2 *

Design and conduct a face-to-face workshop focused on unconscious bias and recruitment practices. Provide this workshop once a year to everyone in KMi who is likely to be in an interview panel. Complement this workshop with the current online course on recruitment, selection and interviewing provided at the OU

We have run three sessions through external consultants and all have been very well appraised. The OU now has a compulsory course on Equality Essentials that KMiers all refresh every two years.


Ensure that job adverts include wording that particularly encourages women to apply.


HR now runs all job adverts through software to detect linguistic bias.  We also add a sentence on KMi’s diversity and inclusive culture to all job ads. However, the consensus is that we should do more in this respect and provide more engaging multimedia content showcasing our diversity and our career progression opportunities.


Modify the KMi website to reflect why working at KMi and the OU can be very attractive to women (commitment to Athena SWAN, training opportunities, flexible working, etc.)

Our recruitment pages and wider KMi pages have been revised substantially to address these issues.


Modify the KMi website to add visibility to KMi’s female researchers and role models

We have created several pages on our website to celebrate our female role models and their achievements.

3.6 *

Review the scoring sheets of a wide sample of interviews to investigate the reasons for the lower success rates of female applicants. Use this review to inform further actions.

We have lost access to recruitment data as explained in the guidance section.

4. Career development and promotions 

4.1 *

Provide a yearly tutorial to the lab summarising and explaining the promotions / permanency criteria.  This is done in collaboration with OU HR. Share the prepared material for the tutorial with the department via our mailing list.  

We have been running these tutorials annually and all genders at the department are more aware of criteria and procedures for promotions and permanency.  

4.2 *

KMi’s Staffing Committee will conduct an annual postdoctoral review (by reviewing the CVs of all KMi’s postdocs) to ensure that female academics are encouraged to apply for promotions/permanency once they meet the criteria and do not wait longer than necessary

We now ensure that promotion and permanency cases are considered yearly for all postdocs and that female members are encouraged to apply.

4.3 *

In conjunction with the University’s  Career Development and Staff Appraisal (CDSA) process, an annual career planning exercise will be conducted as a result of Action Plan 4.2. The aim is to provide strategic career advice and to ensure that career efforts are concentrated in the right path to obtain promotion/permanency.

The staffing committee now provides strategic feedback to each candidate on career planning, with special emphasis  on supporting female members and encouraging them to pursue promotions and permanency.


Provide examples of successful promotion/permanency cases. Ensure cases of female researchers are added to this repository

Repository of promotion/permanency cases is available to all staff members.  

4.5 *

KMi’s Staffing Committee and the candidate’s Line Manager will provide mentoring/training in preparing for promotion and permanency cases. Given the lack of female professors and senior research fellows in the department, additional support for female academics will be requested from other departments via the Gender Equality Steering Group

Cases for promotion / permanency now receive feedback from senior members of the department.

4.6 *

Training for CDSA appraisers / Staffing Committee members on how bias may influence how candidates are perceived in promotion/ permanency / award cases.

All KMi appraisers have attended a workshop on unconscious bias.

4.7 *

Inform CDSA appraisees and appraisers of all available OU guidelines, training programmes and tools for ensuring the effectiveness of the CDSA process. Make appraisees and appraisers more aware of what to do and what to expect in the yearly CDSA review process

We inform KMiers about available resources through the CDSA web interface itself. KMiers are overall positive about the CDSA process.  


Signposting and supporting participation in mentoring and leadership programs, such as the Aurora Leadership Programme.

Women now receive more support and encouragement to become future leaders. 3 academic and 2 professional and support staff have participated in the Aurora programme.

4.9 *

Add a female academic member to the Staffing Committee. At the moment there is a female representative for academic-related and support staff, but no female representative for academic staff.  

We have gender balanced the Staffing Committee by adding two female academics.

4.10 *

Bi-annual workshops on first-grant schemes to increase awareness among early-career researchers and create a platform to encourage and support them to apply as PI for their own projects

We have not been able to accomplish this action and the data suggest large disparities in grant success rates in general. Supporting ECRs and women in grant applications is a priority for our silver plan.

5. Organisation and culture 

5.1 *

Organise at least four events a year (between talks and workshops) to raise awareness and engagement with the principles of equality and diversity  

We have not managed four per year, and average two events each year.


Provide an annual tutorial to the lab summarising and explaining the training opportunities offered by the OU and the department. Share the prepared material for the tutorial with the department via our mailing list.  

We have not been able to accomplish this action. But, the OU now has a centralised portal listing all the training opportunities available, so it is less important. Instead, we have a new action to explore what training KMiers require that is missing from the OU/STEM offerings.


Design and roll out a questionnaire to identify the concrete factors affecting inclusiveness in the lab.

We now use the OU’s Athena Staff survey for this purpose.


Summarise the HR processes regarding bullying, harassment and discrimination and provide an annual workshop to the lab. Also distribute the generated material via our internal mailing list

Our intranet now provides a link to HR policies.


Remind all staff (particularly line managers) to respect and advocate for completing travelling in core days and meetings in core hours

We email periodically, and all line managers are aware and frequently reminded of this.


Design engaging posters to put in the kitchen (the social area within the lab) to raise awareness about equality and diversity

We have produced several posters to champion KMi women and their research.


Initiate annual audit of internal and external committee membership and report on gender breakdown. Use the results of this audit to inform further actions

We now audit internal committees broken down by gender, but do not have systems for collecting external committee membership.

5.8 *

Design and conduct a questionnaire to investigate gender disparity in workload balance and types of tasks assigned to each  gender. Use the results of this study to inform further actions

We now use the OU’s Athena Staff survey for this purpose. The survey has flagged some issues we wish to explore further and will be developing a more in-depth survey as part of our Silver plan.

6.- Flexibility and career breaks 


A new section will be added to the department’s Website to inform members of staff on “Cover and Support for Maternity and Adoption leave”.  

Our intranet now provides a link to HR policies.



Agreeing on departmental good practices and policies to cover for parental and adoption leave.

The Management Board has approved the good practice and policy to cover  for parental and adoption leave.


Promoting awareness of Keep In Touch days to all staff, particularly line managers and, when requested, agreeing on keeping-in-touch days to catch up regularly on work progress during maternity

We have only had one instance of maternity leave, and these actions have been achieved for this instance.  


Establishing a buddy/mentor scheme at department level to advise and support returning staff members.

We have only had one instance of maternity leave, and this action has been achieved for this instance.


Investigate which funding programs allow for child minding costs (e.g., and, if possible, include these costs in project budgeting.  

We have investigated these, but do not yet have systems in place to encourage KMiers to cost these into their bids.


Add information to the department website on policies and practices for supporting staff returning to work after maternity/adoption leave

Our intranet now provides a link to HR policies.



Disseminating information on the advantages/procedures relating to parental leave options on the department website.

Our intranet now provides a link to HR policies.



Disseminating information on options of flexible working as well as policies to avoid disadvantageing those whose research outputs and career development are reduced through career breaks.

Our intranet now provides a link to HR policies.


Silver Action Plan:


The Open University. Knowledge Media Institute.  

Athena Silver Award Submission. 2022-2026 Action Plan

(* indicates highest priority)

SAT Recruitment Lead and SAT Outreach Lead as Persons responsible will be appointed after the SAT is reconstituted in 1.1.

Action Ref No

Planned Action objective

Rationale (i.e. what evidence is there that prompted this action/objective?)

Key outputs and milestones

Timeframe (start/end date)

Person Responsible (include job title)

Success criteria and outcome

1. Evidence gathering and reporting


Encourage more male, BAME, junior staff members and representation from technical services as part of the rolling refresh of SAT membership.

The percentage of men has dropped from 44% (7/16) to 33% (5/15) and the percentage of BAME members has dropped from (5/16) 31% to 20% (3/15).

Reconstitution of Athena SAT, with encouragement to join for underrepresented groups.

April 2022 / July 2022

Athena Co-chairs

Increased diversity in SAT and better gender balance (target of 45% men).


Integrate the Athena SAT processes within the newly established KMi EDIA board

KMi has newly established an EDIA board that the SAT sits within. While there is substantial overlap in personnel, processes will need to be refined through experience.

Processes for coordinating updates to the Management Board and wider KMi, and for incorporating intersectionality in the SAT’s Gender-based analyses.

April 2022 / March 2023

Athena SAT co-chairs and EDIA Board co-chairs

Good flow of information between SAT and EDIA board, regular updates on Athena and EDIA to MB (monthly) and wider KMi (quarterly),  Intersectionality incorporated into SAT analyses.


Design our own KMi- designed Athena/EDIA Exit interview for leavers that asks specific questions about our culture, defined broadly.

The OU has procedures for Exit interviews for Staff (but not for students). But, it defaults through the line manager, there is a notable lack of uptake at KMi, and the Athena SAT does not have access to these. As a result, we do not fully understand the reasons for staff or students leaving and the role EDI/Athena issues might play. In particular we note a higher percentage of women postdocs at AC2 leaving KMi.

Development of KMi-specific exit interview on cultural issues that played a role in students or staff leaving. Getting Ethics approval from OU Ethics Boards.  

Encourage uptake of OU processes: April 2022 / June 2022; Development of KMi process: July 2022 / June 2023

EDIA Co-chairs

All KMi staff and student leavers offered the Athena/EDIA exit interview, conducted by either an Athena or EDIA co-chair, and also encouraged to undertake the OU exit interview, conducted by their line manager or another person of their choice (target of 50% of leavers providing exit interviews).


Participate in university-level Athena Swan work and share good practice, through membership of the STEM Faculty EDIA Steering Group and the University’s Athena Swan Champions Network.

Integration with others’ work helps innovation and strengthens actions. Mutual support from and of others involved in gender equality work helps to maintain momentum of the action plan.

Participation in faculty & university EDIA committees. Supporting another School’s Athena Swan process through mentoring/ buddying scheme.

April 2022 / March 2026

EDIA and Athena Co-Chairs

Buddying leads to AS submissions by other School(s) by 2024 (target of one school by 2024). Committee/ network membership brings new good practices to be adopted by KMi (target of one per year).

2. Postgraduate Research (PGR) students


Continue to ensure that all female PhD students have a female supervisor or third party monitor if they wish.  

It is important for female students to have a link with a female member of staff. We need to continue processes that are working for us.

All students are offered this at induction and the system will continue. In addition, supervisors will be reminded about this when a female student starts with an  all-male supervisory team  

April 2022 / March 2026


PGR Coordinators

100% of female PhD students continue to have the option of a link with a female member of staff.


Continue to ensure that interview panels for female PhD students include at least one female member.

We have been very successful in attracting diverse PhD students and need to continue processes that work.

Make sure that female PGR coordinator joins panel when supervisors are male, at least for female candidates  

April 2022 / March 2026


PGR Coordinators


Ideally all interview panels will have gender diversity, but minimally we will ensure this for 100% of female candidates.


Develop processes to enable more of our PhD students, and especially women, to stay on at KMi after graduation and build their academic careers within KMi.  

We have a gender balanced PhD cohort, but despite a few very successful role models, very few go on to build their academic careers at KMi.

Improve visibility of KMi students through presenting at seminars. Improve internal job prospects and retention post PhD through encouraging uptake of part-time Research Assistant positions in the 3rd year.  Share details across KMi of PhD students in their final year that can be written into grant applications. Survey students to gather other requirements

sharing details twice a year,  once a year for survey, quarterly for encouragement to present a seminar: April 2022 / March 2026

KMi Director and Director of Research

Greater number of KMi students in 2nd Year presenting seminars (target 4 per year), greater number taking up PT Research Assistantships in 3rd year (target 4 per year), greater number of students written into research bids (target 2 per year). Eventually, leading to better retention of PhDs as postdocs (target of one per year). All targets expected to be gender balanced.

3. Recruitment


Use “Textio” or similar tool to ensure language used in job advertisements is gender neutral and inclusive. Use such tools to also audit our entire webpages.

Data show a lower percentage of female applicants.


Purchase of license for software, audit and revision of language on KMi website, application to job advertisements

January 2023 / March 2026

SAT Recruitment Lead and one EDIA co-chair


More inclusive web pages and job advertisements as evaluated by tool. Increase in applications from women and minorities (target 35% applications from women for actions 3.1-3.6, 5.2).


Produce multimedia content that can be used for all KMi advertisements that communicate KMi’s diversity, work culture, and career progression opportunities.

Data show a lower percentage of female applicants.


Production of texts, images and videos for use in advertisements.

September 2022 / April 2023

SAT Recruitment Lead and one EDIA co-chair


Better descriptions of KMi diversity and culture, used in 100% of KMi job advertisements (target 35% applications from women for action 3.1-3.6,5.2).


Produce a pack based on previous action for appointment panels with outlines for adverts and further particulars and guidance for shortlisting and interviewing.  

Will be particularly beneficial to grant holders with limited experience of appointing staff. We lack a written record of best practice.

Advertisement Pack uploaded to KMi intranet, and processes finalised to point recruiters to the pack when they begin the process of advertising a job  

May 2023 / June 2023

SAT Recruitment Lead and one EDIA co-chair



Pack produced and disseminated. Good practice is followed consistently in drawing up adverts, shortlisting and interviewing (target 35% applications from women for action 3.1-3.6,5.2).


Provide systems to ensure diversity on all recruitment panels.

Data show a lower percentage of females shortlisted and selected.

EDIA Board accepts requests for panel members. Recruiter Pack makes clear that panels require gender diversity

April 2022 / March 2024


EDIA Co-chairs


At least 50% of panels include a woman within a year, and over 80% within two years (target  40% of shortlisted candidates are women).


Ally with organisations that are prominent in the EDIA space, and build a reputation for our work in this space.  


Lack of connections to external partners limits KMi’s social media outreach and its local leadership around EDIA issues.

Start local in Milton Keynes which is home to several organisations of note (e.g. Women Leaders UK [] have any ally and a mentor programme)

April 2022 / March 2026

EDIA and Athena Outreach Leads


Development of network of partners (target: 1 by 2024 and 2 by 2026) that amplify KMi’s social media EDIA messaging  (target 35% applications from women for action 3.1-3.6,5.2).


Extend targeted advertising (beyond advertising on WISE website) to attract more female applicants to academic and research positions.


Data show a lower percentage of applicants that are women, or from certain minority categories.


Begin with Staff networks within the OU and leverage their wider networks and social media presence. Make better use of Local community organisations, especially for hiring professional and support staff, who are more likely to be recruited locally.  

April 2022 / March 2026


EDIA and Athena Outreach Leads


KMi Jobs are circulated in a targeted manner, leading to an increase in applications from these groups (target 35% applications from women for action 3.1-3.6,5.2, and 20% from minority groups).

4. Career development and promotions


Create  KMi-specific face-to-face induction for new staff covering KMi’s culture and EDIA as well as research ethics, with complementary information about OU networks around gender, sexuality, race  and disability.  

We recruit globally, and need to make all new recruits aware of KMi’s cultural expectations as well as available support networks within the OU.

Design of induction material, and training a small number of the EDIA committee to be able to deliver it.

January 2023 / July 2024  

Athena SAT co-chair and Director of Research

KMi EDIA and ethics induction workshop delivered every 6 months for new recruits from July 2024.


Understand reasons for lower success rates for grants for female applicants and develop tailored support strategies.  

Female applicants for research grants or any other external funding are less successful than their male counterparts (success rate of 8.6% vs 28.0% for external research grants, and 17.8% vs 32.6% for all external bids).

Provision of dedicated expertise, and good practice sharing, for grant writing and internal review by experienced academics across research groups. Share examples of successful grants to different funders. Funding to send academics to funders’ workshops and meetings and to develop networks, with encouragements to women.

January 2023 / March 2026

Director of Research

Increased sharing of bid writing expertise across KMi. Increased success rates in grant applications for female academics (target: similar success rates for men and women by career stage).


Survey KMi Staff to understand what is lacking in the training courses available to them at KMi.  

24% of men and 8% of women disagree that the training they are offered helps them develop. The data also shows a large number of courses started but not completed, but we do not know at what point in the course staff drop out, and why.

Identification of specific training requested by KMiers that is not part of the OU offering, and finding ways to deliver these, through the OU or within KMi.  

January 2023 / March 2026

Director of Research and one Athena Co-chair

Survey completed in 2023 and provision of specific training requested by KMiers but not part of the OU offering by 2025.  


Extend the postdoctoral review process to include merit awards and additional increments as well as promotions. Monitor gender breakdown of staff receiving awards and increments.

While our promotion process is now fairer, there is still a gender imbalance in salary increments and merit awards (16 applications by men, but only 3 by women).

Look at all CVs together and make recommendations to individual staff on applying for increments and merit awards as well as promotions, taking gender balance  into account.

September 2023 / March 2026

KMi Staffing Committee and Athena Co-Chair

Better gender balance in applications and outcomes for increments and awards (target: similar percentages of women and men applying and being successful).


Develop media profiles for KMiers and especially women

While KMi women have increased their visibility within the OU, we are missing opportunities to develop external visibility.

Identifying training and development opportunities to become media experts – e.g., to get on the BBC women experts list. Encouraging participation.

Identifying opportunities: Oct 2022 / March 2023, encouraging participation April 2023 / March 2026

KMi Deputy Director and EDIA co-chair

KMiers visible in national and international media (target: by 2026, at least two women have been interviewed in the media).


Make it KMi policy to allow all staff, including professional and support staff that engage in research, more freedom and independence, for example by giving them a half-day a week to explore their own ideas.

Interviews with research-active professional and support staff highlighted difficulty in fitting research around their everyday tasks. This is also evident in perceptions of unfairness of work allocation in surveys. 39% of women and 10% of men perceive their workload to be unfair. KMi culture is to encourage bottom up creativity but some KMi-ers are unable to find time during the week.

Policy is determined with respect to Permanent and Fixed Term contracts, and academic and professional/ support staff.  For FTCs, this freedom will need to be constrained to research relevant to the project.

June 2022 / October 2022

KMi Director, Deputy Director and one Athena Co-chair

New Policy in place and communicated to all KMiers, incorporated into workload planning and staff appraisals. By 2026, appraise the scheme and collect evidence on how KMiers have made use of this time to generate new ideas, pilot studies and  new grant applications. We hope for improved survey scores for fairness of work allocation (target for 4.6, 5.3 and 5.4 to remove the gender bias in feelings of unfairness of workload).

5. Organisation and culture


Advertise outreach programmes such as the Brilliant Club and Soapbox Science more widely to PhD students within KMi to increase the number of students involved in these activities.

We found that most outreach activities are undertaken by staff (only 32 out of 193 events involved any student [17%]) , and students are missing out on opportunities to communicate their research to the public.

Identify programmes suitable for students and send reminders. Provide internal support for people that want to take part.

April 2023 / March 2026

PGR Coordinators

Increased involvement of students in public engagement and outreach activities (Target of 25% outreach activities involving students, half of whom women, as our student body is gender balanced)


Use the KMi website and a monthly newsletter (which is in the pipeline) to showcase our commitment and success in advancing the careers of women internally and externally.

While we have improved the visibility of women on our website through bronze actions, we do not yet showcase career progression and this would be a good next step.

Add a section to the KMi diversity pages and have an Athena section in the new monthly newsletter. Use these to provide updates on the status of our action plans through these forums. Also add a section to our jobs pages geared for applicants.

June 2022 / July 2022

Staffing Committee and Athena Swan Co-chair

Section added to KMi  webpage and newsletter. In time, this contributes to more women applying for promotions and increments (target: equal % of women applicants) and also attracting more female applicants to advertised positions   (target 35% applications from women for action 3.1-3.6,5.2).


Explore through a survey any perceived unfairness in work duties, including around auxiliary task such as making presentations for use by the group, reporting for funders, or low-level programming/ website development

39% of women and 10% of men perceive their workload to be unfair.

Design a survey, obtain Ethics Approval, run survey, analyse results and translate into concrete policy changes

January 2023 / March 2026

Athena Co-chair and Director of KMi

Any imbalances are analysed and discussed within KMi to increase awareness around the issue. Where necessary, policy changes are enacted. Perceptions of workload fairness improve (target for 4.6, 5.3 and 5.4 to remove the gender bias in feelings of unfairness of workload).


Trial a new approach to make workload allocation more transparent among staff, whereby the percentage of time allocated to a particular category of work is published on our intranet by gender and staff grade/role.

39% of women and 10% of men perceive their workload to be unfair.


Add a page on the KMi intranet to report this. Update once a year.

July 2023 / March 2026


Athena Co-chair, Executive Team Assistant

Workload allocation by gender is published, any imbalances are analysed and corrected. Perceptions of workload fairness improve (target for 4.6, 5.3 and 5.4 to remove the gender bias in feelings of unfairness of workload).


Establish a regular twice-a-year motivational talk or workshop on Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity and Accessibility.

Our workshops on unconscious bias are well received and there is interest in widening such activities.

Identify speakers to invite and topics for workshops

April 2022 / March 2026

EDIA Co-chair

Talks and workshops are conducted twice a year. These inform our Athena actions.

6.- Flexibility and career breaks


Interview all those returning to work from maternity leave, three months after their return.  

We have not had an opportunity to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness  of the  Maternity Buddy and Keep-in-touch schemes and learn good practice, as no one has returned from maternity leave in the past reporting period.

All returners interviewed after three months. Good practice guidelines updated after each interview.


April 2022 /March 2026

Athena Co-chairs and KMi Director

100% of returnees are interviewed and guidelines are updated. Target: similar issues do not arise in future maternity leaves.


Returning Allowance from Caring leave, illness, maternity, shared paternity leave, etc.

We do not have any explicit funding offer for returning staff, though they can all make requests to KMi’s non-staff budget.

Determine a suitable amount that can be offered as a function of the length of the leave period. If OU introduces a central policy (which we anticipate within a year), align with it or improve on it.

April 2022 / July 2022


Athena Co-chairs and KMi Director

All returnees offered a returning allowance to help them restart their academic careers, aligned with or improving on any central OU offer.


Create a KMi protocol with timelines for when replacements need to be identified and when handover tasks need to be finished, and which clarifies responsibilities of KMi Director, immediate line manager, and mother-to-be.

Our experience of organising cover raised a lot of issues around responsibilities and timelines for organising cover and these need to be clarified.

Assignment of responsibilities and timelines for all tasks with respect to organising maternity cover.

April 2022 / July 2022

Athena Co-chairs and KMi Director

Protocol added to KMi intranet and followed for future maternity leaves. Target: Handover is smooth for future maternity leaves as evidenced in interview in 6.1.


Capture and communicate case studies of shared parental leave from across the university to raise awareness amongst KMi staff.

There is no uptake of shared parental leave at KMi, and this is a known issue in other OU departments and in wider society.

Liaise with other schools within STEM and the wider OU to find persuasive case studies around shared parental leave. Communicate these when parental leave is applied for.

July 2022 / June 2023

Athena Co-chairs

Cases collected and made available through the KMi intranet. Target: Awareness among KMi staff of 75%  in staff survey.


Provide regular training for line managers on OU processes around sickness, caring responsibilities, maternity and parental leave and career breaks and return-to-work processes.

We discovered in our single case of planning maternity leave that there was a lack of awareness among line managers about OU processes, which limited their ability to help.  

Identify suitable person from HR or STEM admin that can deliver such a workshop

January 2023 / March 2026


EDIA Co-chairs

Mini workshops on Line manager knowledge and skills conducted annually.

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Large Language Models for Scientific Question Answering: an Extensive Analysis of the SciQA Benchmark

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