Athena SWAN

Athena SWAN is a charter established and managed by the British Equality Challenge Unit in 2005 that recognises and celebrates good practice towards the advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all.

Athena SWAN was initially established to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.

In May 2015 the charter was expanded to include non-STEMM schools (Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Business and Law (AHSSBL), together with professional and support staff, technical staff, and trans staff and students. The first awards to non-STEMM university departments were announced in April 2016. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

The Athena SWAN Charter covers women (and men where appropriate) in:

  • academic roles in STEMM and AHSSBL
  • professional and support staff
  • trans staff and students

In relation to their:

  • representation
  • progression of students into academia
  • journey through career milestones
  • working environment for all staff

Members who sign up to the charter are expected to apply for an Athena SWAN award, at Bronze, Silver or Gold level. Each award is valid for four years under the post-2015 rules (three years where pre-2015 rules apply).

Each Institution must commit to adopting ten principles, which focus on promoting and supporting gender equality for women. In particular, the charter aims to address what is known as the “leaky pipeline” of women progressing to senior roles in science by removing obstacles to their advancement, ensuring equal pay and mainstreaming support, through action at all levels across the department or organisation.