What is Athena Swan? What is Athena Swan?

The Athena SWAN Charter, launched in 2005, recognises commitment to advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM).

The Charter is managed by ECU (Equality Challenge Unit) and is funded by ECU, the Royal Society, the Biochemical Society and the Department of Health.

Any university or affiliated research institute that is committed to the advancement of the careers of women in STEMM can become a member of the Charter by accepting and promoting the Ten Charter Principles:

  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)

  1. We commit to tackling the gender pay gap.

  2. 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.

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

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

There are currently 137 Athena SWAN members.

The University of East Anglia holds Athena SWAN bronze status (awarded 2012).

The School of Health Sciences (HSC) holds Athena SWAN bronze departmental status (awarded 2014).

This assists STEMM Schools (i.e. those in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine subjects) in examining the ways in which they support women to achieve their full potential in work and study. The framework has the additional benefits of fostering the creation of increasingly supportive environments for all those with family and/or caring responsibilities, in addition to those in dual career relationships.