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The Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences actively promotes the provision of a family friendly working environment, equal opportunities and career development.

NDS Garden Party © NDS
NDS Garden Party


The University of Oxford is a member of the Athena SWAN Charter and holds an Athena SWAN institutional Silver award. The department renewed its Athena SWAN Silver award in January 2021. The award recognises and celebrates good practice on recruiting, retaining and promoting women in science, education and technology in higher education. 

Family Friendly

The University of Oxford recognises the demands on work life balance and offers a range of family friendly policies:

  • Flexible working: Options for flexible working arrangements. 
  • Family leave: Maternity, paternity, parental and adoption leave schemes are in operation.
  • Childcare: The University offers a comprehensive range of childcare services at affordable prices and works closely with various professional bodies to continue to enhance its provision.

Read the NDS Family Factsheet

ParentsNet is a forum aiming to put people around the Medical Sciences Division in contact and to give parents the opportunity to share and find a place to exchange goods and ideas. The forum was developed in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) following the implementation of their Athena SWAN Bronze Award Action Plan, in consultation with the Divisional Athena SWAN team. The administration and moderation of the forum is shared between DPAG and the Divisional Athena SWAN team.

People are able to post to and follow posts in any of the categories below:

  • Childcare. (Disclaimer: please note that the aim of this section is to provide a useful source of information. ParentsNet cannot accept responsibility for the quality or suitability of any information posted in this section).
  • Looking for a new home - offered, for sale and wanted. (Equipment, toys etc).
  • Is this normal? (Ask for reassurance that you will sleep again, that teething doesn't last forever, that your teenager will merge into a reasonable adult etc).
  • Work/life balance. (How do you manage? Tips for working mums and dads).
  • Events

ParentsNet is hosted on Weblearn and is subscription-based only. If you would like to sign up to the forum, please email

Childcare Voucher Scheme
Computershare Childcare Vouchers can be used for registered childcare facilities such as non-University nursery fees, before and after school clubs, holiday play schemes, child-minders, nannies and crèche facilities including swimming pools, gyms and supermarkets. The University offers this scheme to eligible staff as an opportunity to save tax and national insurance on childcare costs. For further information about the scheme and how to apply, visit the Childcare Services pages.

Returning Carers' Fund
The fund provides support for any researcher or academic regardless of gender following a break in their career or a period of leave for caring responsibilities. This can include maternity, adoption and shared parental leave, or leave to care for an ill, disabled or elderly family member. Find out more about the Returning Carers' Fund.

Keeping in touch days
NDS Garden Party© NDSDuring maternity or adoption leave, a member of staff can agree with their manager to have up to 10 keeping in touch (KIT) days without bringing the leave or pay to an end. For further information, visit the Maternity Action website.

The KIT days have increased my options on whether I change my return date and my hours. This way I can come back to work part-time for at least a month to make the right decision for myself and my family.’ Lynda Tully (pictured left), Trial Manager for ACST-2









Flexible working

Considering further education, got caring responsibilities or a new activity outside of work that is impacting your time or affecting your work-life balance? NDS encourages all staff to take advantage of their flexible working policy.

Flexible arrangements are available to all staff at all levels in NDS, regardless of gender, age, role or length of service.

Read our success stories and chat to HR and your line manager to see if an adjusted working pattern, adjusted hours or other flexible arrangements would help you maximise your time and effort at home and at work.

In November 2017, a panel discussion was held to discuss 'What does having a good work-life balance mean What does having a good work-life balance mean when working in a world-leading university? A panel discussion© NDSwhen working in a world-leading university?' The event, organised by NDCN, RDM, and NDS, explored the different forms that a postive work-life balance might take, and communicated the policies and potential options for flexible working. The panel members included Professor Claire Edwards from NDS.

Equal career opportunities

As part of its Equality Policy, the University of Oxford aims to provide an inclusive environment that promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected to assist them in reaching their full potential. 

The University will work to remove any barriers that might deter people of the highest potential and ability from applying to Oxford, either as staff or students. The University has approved separate policies for: Age, Disability, Gender, Race, Religion and Belief, and Sexual Orientation.

The Equality and Diversity Unit works in partnership with University bodies, academic divisions and departments, and the UAS to ensure that the University's goal of the pursuit of excellence goes hand in hand with ensuring freedom from discrimination and equality of opportunity. 

Career Development

The University provides a range of training and development courses to support career progression.

For women
Springboard course: The University aims to encourage and support women’s career progression at Oxford, recognising that, as in many other organisations, the proportion of women tends to drop at the more senior levels in each staff group. The Learning Institute supports women's progression by running the Springboard programme and by providing information on external courses designed for women.

For men
Navigator course: Results in long term, high quality benefits for individuals and their organisations. Grounded in reality, it enables men to identify the clear and practical steps they want to take in their lives, and then develop the skills and determination to do something about them. There are plans for Mathematical, Physical & Life Sciences Division to run Navigator in Hilary Term 2013. Details will be announced mid Michaelmas Term. 

Download the NDS Career Progression and Support for Staff leaflet (PDF, 516 KB)

managing stress

The University Occupational Health Service website contains many resources to help University staff identify, deal with and prevent work-related stress. This includes identification and prevention resources, as well as specific advice and guidance for staff and managers.


NDS Garden Party© NDSThe department holds a number of family friendly social events throughout the year. Recent highlights include the NDS Garden Party in which the Head of Department, Professor Freddie Hamdy, opened up the doors to his home for a wonderful BBQ and the NDS Barn Dance that was held in Wolfson College. The bucking bronco provided lots of entertainment for the children (and adults) and everyone was up on their feet learning the dance routines with the help of the live band.

Staff feedback: 'The Barn Dance was a fabulous opportunity to socialise with colleagues outside the work environment. The kids really enjoyed the mechanical bull and playing tag with the other kids there. It was one of the best family events we’ve been to'.



Additional links

Please see the ‘During employment’ pages of the University website for policies on the following areas:

  • Management of working hours
  • Management of leave, from annual leave/holiday to leave for domestic emergencies
  • The arrangements for sickness absence
  • Training and Personal Development Review (PDR)
  • The prevention and management of work-related stress
  • Handling grievances
  • Performance management including disciplinary procedures.

Oxford Women's Network (OWN)
The Oxford Women's Network is designed to connect female faculty, staff and students, serve as a clearing-house for services and information (conferences, training courses, etc.) and serve as a forum for networking and discussion of issues affecting women in the University.

The Oxford University Newcomers' Club
The Newcomers' Club exists to welcome to Oxford the partners, wives and husbands of newly appointed academic and administrative staff, of visiting academics and of postgraduate students of the University.