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What is Athena Swan?

Athena SWAN is a national scheme which recognises a commitment to supporting and advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) in higher education and research.

The Athena SWAN Charter has been developed to support a commitment to addressing the under-representation of women in STEMM, and advancing the careers of women in STEMM research and academia. The charter covers academic roles, progression of students into academia and the working environment for all staff.

Athena SWAN members sign up to the six principles of the charter.

  • to address gender inequalities requires commitment and action from everyone, at all levels of the organisation
  • to tackle the unequal representation of women in science requires changing cultures and attitudes across the organisation
  • the absence of diversity at management and policy-making levels has broad implications which the organisation will examine
  • the high loss rate of women in science is an urgent concern which the organisation will address
  • the system of short-term contracts has particularly negative consequences for the retention and progression of women in science, which the organisation recognises
  • there are both personal and structural obstacles to women making the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career in science, which require the active consideration of the organisation

Athena SWAN grants bronze, silver and gold awards to organisations who can demonstrate increasing levels of good practice in recruiting, retaining and promoting women in STEMM in higher education.

The University signed up to the Athena SWAN charter in 2008, and has held a bronze institutional award since 2010. We also hold four departmental awards. Find out more about the University's Athena SWAN successes.

The Vice-Chancellor has confirmed his support for gender equality at Sheffield Hallam, and the University is working towards the goal of achieving a silver institutional award.

We are reflecting on our strategy to ensure that more STEMM departments commit to the Athena SWAN Charter, and have a vision to reach silver status for our institution by 2016. I view the Athena SWAN principles as critical to our future success, and the development of a new university strategy for 2014 onwards presents an opportunity for us to explicitly build the principles into our future plans.
Professor Philip Jones, Vice-Chancellor

Our engagement with Athena SWAN is evidence of the university's aim to provide a working environment in which all staff and students are supported and encouraged to achieve their potential.

Before applying for the Vice-Chancellors Scholarship I did a lot of research into Sheffield Hallam and the BMRC, mostly by looking on the website and press releases. One of the main reasons I decided to apply was the fact that the BMRC had been awarded the Silver Athena Swan Award. It proved to me that Sheffield Hallam was committed to encouraging women into science and engineering, both within the University and also out in the community. This was especially important to me coming from a subject which is traditionally male dominated and is something which I look forward to being involved in in the future.
Emma Beasley, Vice-Chancellor's scholarship PhD student, Biomedical Research Centre

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