The Athena SWAN Charter is a national scheme, which was established to advance the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.
The Athena SWAN Charter is based on ten key principles. By being part of Athena SWAN, institutions are committing to a progressive charter; adopting these principles within their 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.
Brunel University London was successful in demonstrating commitment to these six principles, as well as developing an action plan to address these areas. To this end, Brunel was awarded the Athena Swan Bronze award in April 2012. See a copy of our application. The University organises an annual Athena SWAN lecture, which has featured Professor Philippa Reed (pictured above with Pro-Vice Chancellor (Equality, Diversity and Staff Development) Lorraine De Souza and Vice-Chancellor Professor Julia Buckingham) and Dame Athene Donald (pictured top).
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. Brunel is in the process of re-applying for its Bronze award.
The Charter is managed by ECU. It is funded by ECU, the Royal Society, the Biochemical Society and the Department of Health.