Since 2009, we have been part of the Athena SWAN Charter, which recognises commitment to supporting and advancing women's careers in higher education and research. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.
At the end of April, we will receive the outcomes of our latest submissions to the Charter. So what are we doing and what does this charter-mark mean for Warwick?
Stuart Croft said:
As a world-class university we need to attract and retain the most talented staff and students in a globally-competitive market. The Athena SWAN charter is one important independent indicator of Warwick’s commitment to our staff: fair and equal representation, progression and success for all through the continuing advancement of gender equality throughout our practices, policies, culture and plans.”
What is Athena SWAN?
The Athena SWAN Charter evolved from work between the Athena Project and the Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN) to advance the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). The Charter was officially launched in 2005, with the first awards conferred in 2006.
In 2015, the scope of the Athena SWAN Charter was expanded to cover gender equality in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law disciplines (AHSSBL), and to recognise work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.
The Charter is based on ten key principles encompassing issues such as:
- commitment 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,
- commitment to addressing the loss of women along the career pipeline,
- addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional services,
- tackling the gender pay gap,
- commitment to tackling discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people,
- and active leadership of advancing gender equality from those in senior roles.
Members who sign up to the Charter are expected to apply for an Athena SWAN award at Bronze, Silver or Gold level. Each award is valid for three years.
Warwick’s involvement so far
By being part of Athena SWAN, Warwick is actively committed to adopting its principles.
We achieved our first award in 2009 – the Department of Physics achieved Silver status, followed by a Bronze Institutional award.
All nine of Warwick’s STEMM departments have awards ranging from Bronze to Silver. WBS and CEDAR have also achieved Bronze Awards.
Our institutional award status will be announced in late April 2017, along with results for departments which have also made submissions for awards. Departments are also submitting for awards in April 2017 and in November 2017.
Many of our participating departments have found the process extremely useful to critically analyse their staff and student data, and the processes and procedures they use to advance equality for all their staff. It also helps them to benchmark their practices against others in the sector, and to share best practice amongst Warwick departments.
We have implemented a number of initiatives at an institutional level, including:
- Commitment to establish of a Gender Taskforce to develop strategy and to take a multi-faceted approach to implementation and extension of initiatives;
- Warwick Academic Returners Fellowship to support staff returning from maternity/adoption/ parental leave, to focus on their research when they return from this type of extended leave;
- Instigation of ‘Demystifying Academic Promotion’ workshop;
- Conference Care fund which provides small contributions towards the additional caring costs that may be incurred by staff when attending professional conferences, workshops and training.
- Warwick Shadowing Programme – ‘How Warwick Works’, which provides opportunities for staff to shadow senior University roles;
- Women in Academia workshops and the development of a Gender Taskforce and Statement;
- Establishment of milk expression rooms for women returning from maternity leave;
- Sharing best practice with Monash University, which is taking part in a pilot of a similar Charter Mark entitled Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE);
For more information about Athena SWAN at Warwick, see our Diversity and Inclusion pages.