About Athena SWAN

Launched in June 2005, the Athena SWAN charter recognises and celebrates good employment practices for women working in Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine (STEMM) in higher education and research. It aims to assist the recruitment, retention and promotion of women in STEMM and promote good practice.

The University is committed to the aims of Athena SWAN and received the University wide bronze award in 2009. In 2012 UCL applied to renew our bronze award. In his letter of support for UCL's bronze award renewal, the Provost stated that UCL ''will take all necessary action at University, faculty and departmental levels to monitor progress towards an organisational culture where all can thrive, are equally valued, and experience equality of opportunity for career progression''.

Departments and Institutes are also working on Athena SWAN awards. There are currently five silver award holding departments at UCL, with a further 24 departments committed to, and working towards Athena SWAN awards.

About the Athena SWAN Charter

Charter for Women in Science: Recognising commitment to advancing women’s careers in STEMM academia.  The Athena SWAN Charter, which was launched in June 2005, recognises commitment to advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education. 

The beliefs underpinning the Charter are:

  • The advancement of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine is fundamental to quality of life across the globe
  • It is vitally important that women are adequately represented in what has traditionally been, and is still, a male-dominated area
  • Science cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population, and until women and men can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords.

Six principles represent the cornerstone of Athena SWAN:

  1. To address gender inequalities requires commitment and action from everyone, at all levels of the organisation
  2. To tackle the unequal representation of women in science requires changing cultures and attitudes across the organisation
  3. The absence of diversity at management and policy-making levels has broad implications which the organisation will examine
  4. The high loss rate of women in science is an urgent concern which the organisation will address
  5. The system of short-term contracts has particularly negative consequences for the retention and progression of women in science, which the organisation recognises
  6. There are both personal and structural obstacles to women making the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career in science, which require the active consideration of the organisation.

About the awards

Bronze university award: Recognises that the university has a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and is developing an inclusive culture that values all staff.

Bronze department award: Recognises that in addition to institution-wide policies the department has identified particular challenges and is planning activities to address these for the future.

Silver department award: Recognises that in addition to institution-wide policies the department has a significant record of activity and achievement and has identified particular challenges, has implemented activities and can demonstrate their impact so far.

Silver university award: Recognises a significant record of activity and achievement by the university in promoting gender equality and in addressing challenges across the full range of SET departments within the university. Universities should demonstrate that Athena SWAN is well embedded, with strong leadership in promoting the Charter principles and evidence of the impact of Athena SWAN activities.

Gold award: Gold department awards recognise a significant and sustained progression and achievement by the department in promoting gender equality  and to address challenges particular to the discipline. Gold departments should be beacons of achievement in gender equality and should champion and promote good practice to the wider community.

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Page last modified on 03 jul 13 10:05