What is Athena Swan?

What is Athena Swan?

Athena SWAN (Scientific Women's Academic Network) is a charter run by the Equality Challenge Unit. Organisations apply for an Athena SWAN charter award to recognise their commitment to and progress on gender equality and diversity.

Originally focussing on women in STEMM roles (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine), the charter is now gender equality focused (rather than solely focusing on barriers effecting women) and covers AHSSBL subjects, (Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Business and Law) and professional and support staff.

Sheffield Hallam University signed up to the Athena SWAN charter in 2008 and has held a bronze institutional award since 2010. We also hold five department awards. Find out more about the University's Athena SWAN work.

There are 10 principles which guide the charter and which Sheffield Hallam University have signed up to;

  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.

Read more about Athena SWAN and Equality Challenge Unit (now part of Advance HE).