Athena SWAN is one of a number of charter marks which recognise the work that institutions are doing to advance equality and diversity. The Athena SWAN charter was established by the Equality Challenge Unit in 2005 in order to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.
UCL was one of the first universities to sign up to the scheme, and was awarded its first University-wide Bronze award in 2006 (renewed in 2009 and 2012). An increasing number of research departments throughout UCL have since been awarded Bronze or Silver awards. The ICTM submitted its first Athena SWAN Award application in November 2015, and was awarded a Bronze Award in April 2016. Find out more about our application here.
Women make up over 70% of all ICTM staff, working across the full range of roles essential for the smooth running of clinical trials, such as clinicians, scientists, statisticians, project managers, trial managers, data managers, and administrators.
- Why was it created, and why does it matter?
The charter was created because there was clear evidence that there was unequal representation of women in science, and that personal and structural obstacles existed for women which made career progression challenging. As a result, escalating through career paths the proportion of women decreased dramatically. For example, although women make up about 40% of all academic staff, at professor level less than 20% are women.
Where inequality exists for such a large group, it is likely to exist, and persist, for minority and other groups. Therefore any improvements to the working lives of women are likely to benefit all staff. Research undertaken by Loughborough University and commissioned by the Equality Challenge Unit identified that other staff in departments with an Athena SWAN award felt the benefit of having an Athena SWAN award when compared to departments without awards, in that they felt they had more support for their career development and progression.
In addition, in 2011 Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, announced that from 2016 only institutions with a Silver Athena SWAN award will be eligible for NIHR funding. It is likely that other funding bodies will also require a firm commitment to gender equality, of which holding an Athena SWAN award is evidence.
- Athena SWAN Principles
By applying to be a part of Athena SWAN, ICTM is commiting to the following six principles of the charter:
- To address gender inequalities requires commitment and action from everyone, at all levels of the organisation.
- To tackle the unequal representation of women in science requires changing cultures and attitudes across the organisation.
- The absence of diversity at management and policy-making levels has broad implications which the organisation will examine.
- The high loss rate of women in science is an urgent concern which the organisation will address.
- The system of short-term contracts has particularly negative consequences for the retention and progression of women in science, which the organisation recognises.
- 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
For more information about the Athena SWAN Charter, please visit the Equality Challenge Unit's website.