The Athena SWAN Charter is a national initiative that recognises commitment to advancing women's representation in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. Universities and institutions that can prove they are committed to the advancement and promotion of women in STEMM subjects can apply for membership.
We became a member of Athena SWAN in 2009 and renewed our institutional Bronze Award in April 2014. We're now working towards silver award status.
Athena SWAN members sign up to the Athena SWAN Charter. This is based on the six principles that underpin the work that we're doing in higher education generally in relation to gender equality.
The Charter’s six principles are:
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 organization.
Whilst different universities face different challenges in terms of gender equality, all Athena SWAN members are committed to these broad principles.
What are we doing here in Plymouth?
As well as having our institutional award, we're working with colleagues across different departments here at the University to understand and develop their own plans to support Athena Swan. There's no single solution to resolving gender inequality issues, and its important to recognize that the challenges facing people in one academic discipline can be very different to those in another. To understand more about the work that we are doing, read our University submission and action plan.
Athena SWAN website
Find more information about the national charter on the Athena SWAN website.