The first meeting of the steering group tasked with a comprehensive review of Advance HE’s Athena SWAN Charter has taken place.
The steering group is chaired by Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, vice-chancellor and president, Brunel University London, and includes representatives from a range of geographies, institution types and professional backgrounds. Its role is to lead an independent review of the gender equality charter on behalf of Advance HE and its owners Universities UK (UUK) and Guild HE.
The group will provide oversight and expertise on behalf of the sector to ensure a robust and credible consultation process, make recommendations about implementation to inform changes to Athena SWAN in the UK, and advise on the policy and positioning of Athena SWAN.
Alison Johns, CEO of Advance HE said: “In my first few months since becoming CEO of Advance HE, I was struck by the contrasting feedback that I had about Athena SWAN. On the one hand it has had a positive influence on careers, but on the other people are telling us that it is becoming more burdensome to implement.
“It was clear to me that we needed to address this without delay, so I have asked the steering group to undertake a ‘no stone unturned’ review which retains rigour and reduces burden.”
Professor Buckingham said: “Athena SWAN is something that we are very passionate about and we believe this review will provide an opportunity to consider its scope, which has evolved considerably in recent years, and ensure that it is fit for purpose in the rapidly changing landscape in which we are all operating.
“There has already been a positive response from the sector with offers from colleagues to contribute to the review. The Steering Group is very grateful for this and aims to draw on that expertise to advise on the consultation, policy and implementation as the project progresses.
“The review will take approximately one year and we plan to write a series of blogs telling the story of the review and involving sectors colleagues along the way.”
The members of the Athena SWAN Steering Group are:
- Professor Julia Buckingham, CBE (Chair), vice-chancellor and president, Brunel University London
- Ben Browne, COO, De Montfort University
- Professor Paul Carmichael, associate dean (global development), Ulster University
- Alison Cross, director of human resources, Oxford Brooks University, and member of Executive Committee of Universities HR (UHR)
- Professor Dame Athene Donald, DBE, FRS, professor of experimental physics, master of Churchill College, University of Cambridge
- Professor Jenny Higham, principal, St George's, University of London and chair of the Medical Schools Council
- Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott , OBE, senior pro-vice-chancellor – research and innovation and strategic development, Swansea University and vice president of the Federation of European Microbiological Society (FEMS)
- Patrick Johnson, head of equality and diversity, University of Manchester
- David Sweeney, executive chair, Research England, Council of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
- Professor Paul Walton, department of chemistry, University of York
- Professor Lesley Yellowlees, MBE, CBE, head of college of science & engineering, University of Edinburgh.
Frequently asked questions on the Athena SWAN review are available here.