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Women in HE Conference 2021

The Athena Swan transformation journey

Advance HE has been working on the transformation of the Charter to ensure it is fit for the future, while maintaining rigour and credibility, and reducing the administrative workload for applicants.

Advance HE has been carrying out the developmental work to deliver a holistically transformed Charter since the independent review of Athena Swan was published in 2020. On 30 June 2021 Advance HE delivered the transformed UK Athena Swan Charter.

In addition to providing a transformed and enhanced Athena Swan Charter framework, short-term changes where made in the run up to the release of the Charter which included; the immediate offer of all future awards to five years, and the offer of one-year extensions for all existing award holders.

On this page you will find the transformation journey of the UK Athena Swan Charter from its independent review in March 2020 to its official launch on 30 June 2021.

The transformed UK Athena Swan Charter launched on 30 June 2021. You can now download a transformed UK Athena Swan Charter information pack and find out about how to get started. 

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Athena Swan transformation journey

Blog - Advancing gender equality for professional roles in higher education and research institutions in the UK

07 July 2021
Kelly Vere, reflects on the importance of the inclusion of professional, technical and operational staff in the newly launched transformed Athena Swan Charter.
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Blog - A step-change for gender equality – the transformed UK Athena Swan Charter is launched today

30 June 2021
“A great step forward in the drive for gender equality in higher education and research institutes.”
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The transformed UK Athena Swan Charter has arrived

30 June 2021
The transformed UK Athena Swan Charter launches.
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Formal endorsement of the transformed UK Athena Swan Charter

21 June 2021
Athena Swan Governance Committee (ASGC) and the Advance HE Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee – a sub-committee of the Advance HE Board – endorse the transformed UK Charter.
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Blog - Athena Swan transformation – co-creating the enhanced UK Charter by Ruth Gilligan

10th June 2021
With the imminent launch of the transformed UK Athena Swan Charter, Dr Ruth Gilligan, Advance HE Assistant Director for UK Equality Charters, shares her reflections on the sector’s engagement in the transformation project.
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Blog - Autonomy and flexibility, a partnership-focussed model, reduced burden – guiding themes to implement the enhanced Athena Swan Charter by Professor Sarah Sharples

07 June 2021
Professor Sarah Sharples, Deputy Chair of the Athena Swan Governance Committee, reflects on the experience of being a committee member, and the progress that has been made in supporting changes to Athena Swan.
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New panel Chairs and Reviewers announced for transformed UK Athena Swan Charter

25 May 2021
New panel members are announced in accordance with the independent review of the UK Charter, following close collaboration between the Advance HE Equality Charters Team and the Athena Swan Governance Committee.
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Update on the Athena Swan Culture Survey

24 May 2021
A key recommendation outlined in the independent review of the Athena Swan Charter (Spring 2020), was that the Athena Swan Charter should include a mandatory culture survey, and that this survey should be completed by all UK Athena Swan academic department applicants.
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Update on the Feb 2021 Athena Swan engagement events

17 March 2021
Ruth Gilligan, Assistant Director for Equality Charters would like to thank all participants who attended our February roundtable engagement events.
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Athena Swan transformation update

19 February 2021
As the new year begins in earnest and with the first signs of Spring on the horizon, Advance HE Chief Executive Alison Johns writes with an update on the transformation of the Athena Swan Charter for gender equality.
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Athena Swan UK: Draft award criteria and underpinning expectations

16 February 2021
Working with the Athena Swan Governance Committee (ASGC) we have drafted high-level award criteria supported and underpinned by defined and transparent expectations, with feedback welcomed from the Athena Swan community.
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Athena Swan consultation exercise

12 January 2021
Call for expressions of interest in participating in an Athena Swan consultation exercise.
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UK Athena Swan review panel roles

8 January 2021
Call for expressions of interest in future UK Athena Swan review panel roles.
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End of year message from Alison Johns

17 December 2020
As we near the end of 2020, Alison Johns, Chief Executive at Advance HE, reflects on the achievements and progress we have made this year as part of the Athena Swan Transformation.
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Updated Athena Swan Charter Principles

12 November 2020
Advance HE is delighted to share the Charter Principles which will underpin the strengthened UK Athena Swan Charter currently in development.
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Update on the transformation of Athena Swan in the UK

06 November 2020
As part of our regular communications on how Athena Swan reforms are progressing, Advance HE Chief Executive Alison Johns has written a personal update on how we are working to transform the Charter and support all colleagues in the sector.
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Call for interest: membership of the UK Athena Swan Governance Committee

15 October 2020
We recently announced and welcomed members of the new Athena Swan Governance Committee, which has been formed to provide assurance, expert advice and guidance to the Advance HE Board on matters relating to the transformation and ongoing enhancement of the Athena Swan Charter in the UK. We are now seeking expressions of interest for the remaining committee members and our short-life sub-groups.

This call for interest is now closed.

The requirement for institutions to hold departmental silver or gold awards before applying for an institutional silver or gold award is abolished

9 September 2020
Advance HE can now confirm the immediate adoption of another of the review recommendations, such that applicants seeking to apply for a Silver or Gold university-level award are no longer required to hold departmental Silver or Gold awards in order to be eligible.
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Athena SWAN Awards to begin from results announcement

10 August 2020
From the April 2020 round onwards, the five-year Athena Swan award period will begin from the date on which results are communicated. This is in line with the recommendations of the Athena Swan Independent Review.

New Athena Swan Governance Committee forms

22 July 2020
Advance HE is delighted to announce and welcome the new Athena Swan Governance Committee. The Committee has been formed to provide assurance, expert advice and guidance to the Advance HE Board on matters relating to the transformation and ongoing enhancement of the Athena Swan Charter as recommended by the Independent Review of Athena Swan.
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Extension of UK Athena Swan award validity to five years

6 May 2020
The Independent Steering Group recommended that the duration of Athena Swan awards be extended to five years. As part of Advance HE’s transformation plan, we recognise that this is a recommendation that can be enacted in the short-term in the UK. We have developed a light-touch process to enable this, whilst ensuring that award holders remain committed to progressing gender equality.
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Advance HE responds to recommendations proposed in independent review of Athena Swan

6 May 2020
Advance HE publishes its detailed response to the recommendations proposed in the independent review of the Athena Swan Charter. Alison Johns, Chief Executive Advance HE, said, “We are absolutely committed to an Athena Swan Charter that is both rigorous and accessible, so that everybody can be given the opportunity to thrive in the sector, and for the sector too to thrive as a result of more inclusive and fairer cultures."
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Independent review of Athena Swan published

19 March 2020
Advance HE welcomes The Future of Athena Swan, the report of the Athena Swan Charter Independent Review Steering Group which is published today. The report is the culmination of the extensive work of the independent review led by Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel University London and will see the Charter enhanced and its processes streamlined.
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Review of the Athena Swan Charter: Report and Appendices

The report of the Athena Swan Charter Independent Review Steering Group was published 19 March 2020.

The report is the culmination of the extensive work of the independent review led by Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel University London. It sets out a number of recommendations to ensure the Charter meets these challenges and is fit for purpose for the future of higher education.

Download the full report