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Principles and History

Key principles

The Athena SWAN Charter is based on ten key principles. By being part of Athena SWAN, we commit to a progressive charter and to adopting these principles within our policies, practices, action plans and culture.

1. We acknowledge that academia cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of all.

2. We commit to advancing gender equality in academia, in particular, addressing the loss of women across the career pipeline and the absence of women from senior academic, professional and support roles.

3. We commit to addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional and support functions. In this we recognise disciplinary differences including:

  • the relative underrepresentation of women in senior roles in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL)
  • the particularly high loss rate of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM)

4. We commit to tackling the gender pay gap.

5. We commit to removing the obstacles faced by women, in particular, at major points of career development and progression including the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career.

6. We commit to addressing the negative consequences of using short-term contracts for the retention and progression of staff in academia, particularly women.

7. We commit to tackling the discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people.

8. We acknowledge that advancing gender equality demands commitment and action from all levels of the organisation and in particular active leadership from those in senior roles.

9. We commit to making and mainstreaming sustainable structural and cultural changes to advance gender equality, recognising that initiatives and actions that support individuals alone will not sufficiently advance equality.

10. All individuals have identities shaped by several different factors. We commit to considering the intersection of gender and other factors wherever possible.

History

ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter evolved from work between the Athena Project and the Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN), to advance the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM).

With the support of Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) and the UKRC, the Charter was officially launched at the Institute of Physics on 22 June 2005, with the first awards conferred in 2006.

Athena SWAN received a major boost in 2011, when the Chief Medical Officer announced that the National Institute for Health Research would only expect to shortlist medical schools for biomedical research centre and unit funding if the school holds a Silver Athena SWAN award.

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. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

The Charter is managed by ECU. It is funded by ECU, the Royal Society, the Biochemical Society and the Department of Health.

The content on this page is largely taken from ECU's website.