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  1. Equality, diversity & inclusion
  2. Gender equality
  3. Athena SWAN charter
About City

Athena SWAN charter

The Athena Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN) Charter was established in 2005 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.

In May 2015 the Charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The Charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

Athena SWAN awards are available in Bronze, Silver and Gold at both institution and departmental level. Universities must achieve at least a Bronze award before individual departments can apply for recognition at Bronze, Silver or Gold level in their own right.

Athena SWAN Charter

The Equality Challenge Unit's (ECU) Athena SWAN Charter is based on ten key principles:

  1. We acknowledge that academia cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of all.
  2. We commit to advancing gender equality in academia, in particular, addressing the loss of women across the career pipeline and the absence of women from senior academic, professional and support roles.
  3. We commit to addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional and support functions. In this we recognise disciplinary differences including:
    • the relative underrepresentation of women in senior roles in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL)
    • the particularly high loss rate of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM)
  4. We commit to tackling the gender pay gap.
  5. We commit to removing the obstacles faced by women, in particular, at major points of career development and progression including the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career.
  6. We commit to addressing the negative consequences of using short-term contracts for the retention and progression of staff in academia, particularly women.
  7. We commit to tackling the discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people.
  8. We acknowledge that advancing gender equality demands commitment and action from all levels of the organisation and in particular active leadership from those in senior roles.
  9. We commit to making and mainstreaming sustainable structural and cultural changes to advance gender equality, recognising that initiatives and actions that support individuals alone will not sufficiently advance equality.
  10. All individuals have identities shaped by several different factors. We commit to considering the intersection of gender and other factors wherever possible.

Read more about the background to the Athena SWAN Charter and information about the award criteria (pdf)

The benefits of the Athena SWAN Charter, as reported by other universities:

  • Highlights areas to make positive changes
  • Provides a focal point for existing informal good practices
  • Increases awareness of career progression issues
  • Encourages increased transparency
  • Demonstrates good working environment to job applicants.

What is happening at City?

City became a member of the Athena SWAN Charter in February 2014 which enables City to raise its Equality and Diversity profile, both internally and externally, and provides a framework on which to build on current good practice.

City has been recognised for its commitment to gender equality by achieving the Bronze Award as part of the Athena SWAN Charter. City submitted its Bronze Award application to the Equality Challenge Unit last November. The Self-Assessment Team (SAT) and Gender Equality Working Group (GEWG) led the development of the submission, under the new Athena SWAN scheme and received the outcome in April. The award will enable wider changes to the City working culture for the benefit of all.

To obtain a bronze award City has reflected on its current culture, practices and processes and produced a four-year Action Plan to deliver improvements.

City has already commenced work on the Action Plan and will continue to monitor and review its implementation over the next four years. Some Deans have identified Athena SWAN ‘leads’ to progress School applications and detailed work is underway, while Equality & Diversity leads have been identified in all Schools and Professional Services.

City’s Athena SWAN application and Action Plan can be found here.

What about Schools and departments?

Under the new broader Athena SWAN scheme, Schools and academic departments from all disciplines across City will be able to apply for an Athena SWAN award in the future.

A department award recognises that in addition to institution-wide policies, the department is working to promote gender equality and to identify and address challenges particular to the department and discipline. The department must also plan future actions.

The Gender Equality Working (GEWG) is working collaboratively with the Deans of Schools on the Athena SWAN application process. The School of Health Sciences has established its Self-Assessment Team and is working on its application.

View further information for departments (pdf)