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“We can’t ignore 50 percent of the population’s talent” – Alison Johns speaks to SAGE on gender equality and Athena SWAN

16 Apr 2020 | Advance HE Advance HE’s CEO Alison Johns spoke to Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) during her recent visit to Australia to reflect on the progress made in gender equality across the globe

During a visit to Australia earlier this year, Alison attended an awards ceremony for the second and third cohorts’ of SAGE’s Athena SWAN pilot scheme and afterwards spoke to SAGE about the progress and future for gender equality, in Australia and around the world.

In her interview, she commended all 45 members engaged in the SAGE Athena SWAN pilot and took pride in the “commitment and enthusiasm” to gender equality shown by the 24 institutions who were presented with their awards.

The strength of Athena SWAN, she says, is that it goes “right to the heart of the structural barriers as experienced by women.”

The Athena SWAN Charter’s process and framework is now being adopted across the globe, including in Ireland, the USA and Canada. SAGE is the only Australian organisation accredited by Advance HE to grant Athena SWAN awards and there are now 39 institutions (from all three pilot cohorts) in Australia to have been awarded an Athena SWAN Bronze award.

Alison added: “The Athena SWAN Charter model now is rolling out globally, but Australia took the lead by adopting it first [outside the UK and Ireland]. Australia led the way but people will now be part of a global community, it’s a global movement.

“We need to keep going forwards because as Brian Schmidt [Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University (ANU)] said, ‘we can’t ignore 50 percent of the population’s talent’. That just about sums it up for me.”

Visit the SAGE website to listen Alison’s full interview with Paul Richards.

Athena SWAN Review

Advance HE has welcomed ‘The Future of Athena SWAN’, the report of the Athena SWAN Charter Independent Review Steering Group, which 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.

Advance HE commissioned the review in April 2018, immediately after it was formed, recognising the need for the Athena SWAN Charter to be fit for the future, while maintaining rigour and credibility, and reducing the administrative workload for applicants.

The review is of the United Kingdom iteration of Athena SWAN with no compulsion for change elsewhere. That said, the review 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.

Advance HE’s full response to the Steering Group’s recommendations will be published shortly.


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