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Gender equality

At the ICR, we want to promote change by identifying and addressing the challenges people face in establishing their careers because of their gender.

Our ambition is to:

  • create a sustainable pipeline of women in scientific and clinical leadership roles
  • address gender equality in all career paths across the ICR
  • champion gender equality in the wider research community, sharing our expertise with other institutions.

Three female scientists in the lab

The Athena SWAN Charter

We are proud to be a member of the Athena SWAN Charter, a scheme that recognises and celebrates good practices in higher education and research institutions towards the advancement of gender equality.

We have held a prestigious Athena SWAN Silver Award for our institution since 2016. It recognises a significant record of activity and achievement in promoting gender equality and inclusivity, such as supporting women at key transition points in their careers, and the promotion of women researchers and researchers from different ethnic backgrounds into leadership roles.

Our most recent award application, submitted April 2019, shows the issues that we have identified, and the action plan we are delivering to make further progress. The implementation of the action plan is led by the Athena SWAN Steering Group, which is composed of members from all divisions and staff groups and chaired by Professor Christina Yap.

The Women in Science Group 

This networking and leadership development group, chaired by Professor Christina Yap, brings together senior researchers and staff from the ICR and The Royal Marsden to help address the inequality in the number of women in the most senior research leadership roles.

Topics explored include supporting high-performance teams, influencing skills, personal brand, leadership and mentoring.

Support for parents and parents-to-be

Stopping the tenure clock

Researchers at the ICR can apply to ‘stop the tenure clock’ for up to a year for each period of leave, to minimise the impact of taking maternity or shared parental leave on their careers. 

Everyone whose tenure at the ICR is limited by a workforce agreement is eligible, including postdocs, ICR Fellows, members of Career Development Faculty and Clinician Scientists. 

Maternity mentoring

The ICR can match academic and clinical academic researchers and students with a maternity mentor, as it can be useful to talk to someone who has already been through a period of maternity leave to discuss concerns and hear the experiences and advice of others. 

Parent groups and new parent buddies

We run parents groups on our sites in Sutton and Chelsea, with around 70 members across both sites. 

The groups bring staff together to build a support network and forum for discussion for people with children. 

We also run a peer mentoring scheme across the ICR where new parents are matched with supportive mentors, who can provide support and insight into what has helped them in balancing work and family life. 

Flexible working practices

The ICR offers a range of options to work flexibly, including compressed hours, job sharing, part-time working and varied start and finish times. 

We deliver workshops for both staff and managers to help them understand the options.

Contributions towards care costs

The ICR offers contributions towards the costs of care for children or relatives to staff and students attending residential training courses and conferences arranged through our Learning and Development department. 

We aim to be the employer of choice in cancer research and to create an environment where everyone can thrive.

— Dr Vanessa McKean, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager


Celebrating Women in Science

Every year for International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and International Women's Day, we shine a spotlight on some of the many fantastic women leading the way at the ICR.

Read more

ICR values

Our values – developed together as an organisation – make it clear how each and every one of us work to meet our mission – to make the discoveries that defeat cancer.

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