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About Athena SWAN

Our Athena SWAN awards demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all.


About Advance HE’s Athena SWAN Charter

The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.

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.

The University is a proud member of the Athena SWAN Charter since 2007. We have held a Bronze institutional award since 2009 and a Silver institutional award since 2021. We are dedicated to enhancing and promoting gender equality throughout the University, recognising the importance of ensuring our institution is an inclusive, diverse and supportive environment for both staff, students and the wider Community. We are also actively committed to embedding the Transformed Athena SWAN Charter principles within our organisation through policy, practice and change.

Origins of the name

Advance HE’s Athena SWAN Charter evolved from work between the Athena Project and the Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN), to advance the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM).

Examples of good practice

Some of the examples of good practice recognised by the Athena SWAN Charter include creating an effective workload model for staff that takes into consideration their diverse responsibilities, positive steps towards flexible working, career breaks and improved parental policy.

In practice this may translate into actions such as active scheduling of meetings between the hours of 10am and 3pm, addressing unconscious bias during interview selection procedures, ensuring gender balance on senior management committees and decision-making boards, effective mentoring of staff, from researchers to professors, to allow progression of careers and to ensure equal opportunities are available to all.

Current Athena SWAN awards

There are three levels of Athena SWAN awards:

  • Bronze: planning
  • Silver: doing
  • Gold: sustaining

We're committed to demonstrating a real culture change within the University and our individual Departments. Read more about successful Athena SWAN submissions and University's latest application.

The University has an Athena SWAN Silver Award and this represents the ‘doing’ level where issues are identified and actions to address these are developed and impact of the previous action plan is demonstrated. Award levels progress through to Gold (‘sustaining’), which recognises ‘sustained impact’. Our Silver Award, awarded in 2011, is a recognition of a gender equality journey we've been on since 2009, when we first applied for an institutional Bronze award. We then renewed it in 2013 and 2017, demonstrating our commitment to a culture change within the University towards a more inclusive, representative and progressive environment. In 2021, the University successfully applied and upgraded its award status to Silver, as evidence of recognising the impact of gender equality actions and initiatives undertaken over the last four years.


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