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Athena Swan events enthuse members on the transformation process

26 Apr 2021 | Joanna Ahlberg Joanna Ahlberg, project manager for the Athena Swan transformation summarises the feedback from recent engagement events held for Athena Swan members to help improve the process.

With the expert input of the Athena Swan Governance Committee, Advance HE is currently undertaking a transformation of Athena Swan to ensure it is as effective and supportive as possible for the future. An important objective of our work is ensuring that the Charter community has the opportunity to engage with and input to the transformation. Two engagement events specifically tailored for institutions and departments took place in March. It was a space to share best practice, learn about the progress being made on the transformation, and reflect on effective ways to impact on institutional and departmental cultural change.  

Sessions were hosted by Ruth Gilligan, Assistant Director for Equality Charters at Advance HE, and led by members of our Athena Swan Governance Committee who reported a gratifying amount of detail in the critical evaluation offered by participants during roundtable discussions. The collegiality of sector partners meant that conversations on equality, diversity and inclusion were richly informative and invaluable to the development of the Athena Swan Charter. Attendees reported very high levels of constructive feedback on both the event itself and the Athena Swan DRAFT Gold application form which was circulated before the event. 

Advance HE is really listening to the sector and taking on board feedback and concerns in order to improve the Athena Swan Charter application process.”

Athena Swan Coordinator for the University of Nottingham, Tamsin Majerus

The majority of attendees reported that they found the events well-chaired with plenty of opportunity to share views and learn about the gender equality work within other institutions.

As a stakeholder/end user, it is always valuable to have input into the process development.”

Frances Lloyd, Project Delivery Manager from Swansea University

It was a beneficial experience and wonderful to come together as a community over the issues which are closest to our hearts. Partners expressed that the event encouraged them to reflect on points such as intersectionality and ‘gender as a spectrum’, and how they might begin to consider policy narrative leading to cultural change.

The transformation process of Athena Swan has given us the space to reflect on intersectionality and to explore ways in which we can be more inclusive in our gender narratives to give everyone a voice.”

Lorna Warnock, Associate Professor and Director of EDI, University of York

Many of you fed back that you would like more certainty over what to expect from the Athena Swan Charter going forward. By the end of May, we will be publishing details of when to expect the completed Charter as well as key dates for engagement events to support the sector with the roll out of the new Charter.  


Joanna Ahlberg is Athena Swan Membership and Accreditation Project Manager at Advance HE.


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