Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

An overview of the Athena Swan Charter

Athena SWAN Gender Charter logo

Introduction to Athena SWAN

Advance HE’s Athena Swan Charter 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. In May 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students.

Transformed charter information

In 2021 the Charter was transformed, and now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

The transformed Athena Swan Charter:

  • Helps institutions achieve their gender equality objectives
  • Assists institutions to meet equality legislation requirements, as well as the requirements and expectations of some funders and research councils
  • Uses a targeted self-assessment framework to support applicants identify areas for positive action as well as recognise and share good practice
  • Supports the promotion of inclusive working practices that can increase the retention of valued academics and professional and support staff, demonstrating an institution’s commitment to an equitable working environment

You can read a briefing document about the transformed charter on the EDU Website or find a useful primer video on the specifics of the transformation on the Advance HE website, or watch a recording of a session held in the University in October 2021 (below):


We then held a session focused on 'What departments can do now to prepare for the Transformed Charter' including explicit information on the underpinning expectations to meet silver and gold award levels, and heard from recent successful departments and an experienced Athena Swan panellist. You can find a transcript  via Microsoft stream here: Video recording with transcript


 The third session we held was hosted by Dr Alvin Leung and focused on action plans, monitoring and evaluation which is coming soon.

The Athena Swan principles

In committing to the principles of the Athena Swan Charter, we recognise that we join a global community with a shared goal of addressing gender inequalities and embedding inclusive cultures. Each institution, research institute, department and directorate has different gender equality challenges and development priorities. These priorities should be developed based on an understanding of the local evidence-base and national and global gender equality issues. In determining our priorities and interventions, we commit to:

1. Adopting robust, transparent and accountable processes for gender equality work, including: 
    a. Embedding diversity, equity and inclusion in our culture, decision-making and partnerships, and holding ourselves and others in our institution/institute/department accountable 
    b. Undertaking evidence-based, transparent self-assessment processes to direct our priorities and interventions for gender equality, and evaluating our progress to inform our continuous development
    c. Ensuring that gender equality work is distributed appropriately, is recognised and properly rewarded

2. Addressing structural inequalities and social injustices that manifest as differential experiences and outcomes for staff and students

3. Tackling behaviours and cultures that detract from the safety and collegiality of our work and study environments for people of all genders, including not tolerating gender-based violence, discrimination, bullying, harassment or exploitation

4. Understanding and addressing intersectional inequalities

5. Fostering collective understanding that individuals have the right to determine their own gender identity, and tackling the specific issues faced by trans and non-binary people because of their identity

6. Examining gendered occupational segregation, and elevating the status, voice and career opportunities of any identified under-valued and at-risk groups

7. Mitigating the gendered impact of caring responsibilities and career breaks, and supporting flexibility and the maintenance of a healthy ‘whole life balance’

8. Mitigating the gendered impact of short-term and casual contracts for staff seeking sustainable careers