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Transformation plan for Athena SWAN in the UK

06 May 2020 | Advance HE Advance HE publishes its detailed response to the recommendations proposed in the independent review of the Athena SWAN Charter

Last month, Advance HE welcomed the findings of the independent review it commissioned to enhance the Athena SWAN Charter. We now respond to the recommendations in more detail.

Among its transformation plans to enhance the Athena SWAN Charter, Advance HE will:

  • reduce the data burden
  • streamline and update the application process to enable quicker turnaround of results and feedback
  • expand the Charter to include professional service directorates
  • work with Jisc and HESA to explore the development of a data portal to make it easier for institutions to collate data
  • develop new panel roles and processes
  • support the consideration of gender as a spectrum
  • encourage institutions and departments to consider the intersection of gender with other protected characteristics.

The full response is available here.

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.

“The Athena SWAN Charter has been and continues to be a powerful tool for change and we’re looking forward to engaging and working with members to strengthen the framework even more throughout this transformation process.”

Advance HE will keep members updated on developments and progress over the coming months. Full detail on the transformation plan and any changes beyond the November 2020 submission round will be shared with the sector by 1 October. The transition to ‘Athena Swan 4.0’ will be managed with care as to not add any additional burden to institutions and departments preparing to submit during this time of change.

The Athena SWAN Charter is used around the world to support and transform gender equality in higher education and research. The review and transformation plan relate to the United Kingdom iteration of Athena SWAN with no compulsion for change elsewhere. That said, the work in the UK does open the opportunity for discussions for how Advance HE could bring greater value for its global members through this refreshed Charter.

Find out more about the Athena SWAN Charter and about Advance HE’s work to promote Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

  • There are now over 140 UK Athena SWAN members, holding 800 awards between them.
  • A recent report by Ortus Economic Research and Loughborough University, funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Royal Society and the Department of Health and Social Care, found that 93% of ‘champions’ believe that the Charter has had a positive impact on gender issues in their university, department or research institute.




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