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Gender charter marks consultation response

The latest news on the expansion of Athena SWAN to arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law departments

In November 2014 ECU announced our intention to expand the scope and aims of the Athena SWAN charter in line with our successful gender equality charter mark trial. This will open the charter to arts, humanities, social science, business and law departments, cover wider issues of gender inequality and also consider the progression of professional, technical and support staff.

We conducted a consultation in November and December 2014 on the impact the proposed changes may have on charter members. ‘Aligning Athena SWAN and the gender equality charter mark‘ set out the changes and the areas we were consulting on. One hundred and fifty-one valid responses were returned.

Respondents were broadly in favour of the expansion of the charter and inclusion of new areas, and provided helpful feedback on the potential implications, concerns and areas to be considered.

ECU’s equality charter team have been taking forward the recommendations and feedback from the consultation. These pages set out what, following the consultation, will form part of the expanded Athena SWAN when it is launched. Development of the charters is complex and several areas will need further consideration to ensure that the charter is workable in practice for institutions and departments, while still encouraging them to set ambitious targets for real and lasting change. Information on the areas still under consideration is also provided.

Expansion of Athena SWAN

From April 2015 Athena SWAN will be expanding to incorporate staff from arts, humanities, social science, business and law departments (AHSSBL). It will also include professional and support staff.

Assessment panels will still consider applications on a discipline-specific basis, ensuring that the different contexts and priorities of AHSSBL and STEMM areas are taken into account.

Current Gender Equality Charter Mark trial award holders will automatically become expanded Athena SWAN charter members and award-holders when we launch the expanded Athena SWAN in April.

Transition

Feedback from the consultation indicated that institutions would appreciate a longer transition period for existing members and STEMM departments to use the existing application forms.

There will be a transition timetable that allows for new AHSSBL applicants to submit for an award in November 2015, and time for existing Athena SWAN members and STEMM departments to submit for an award, renew or upgrade a current award, under the existing criteria until November 2016.

See detailed timeline below.

Award validity >

Successful awards to the expanded charter made using the new application forms will be valid for four years from the date of submission.

For successful applications made using the existing criteria, awards are valid for a three-year period beginning from the announcement of the award result. If the end of this period of validity falls between two submission deadlines, the award is deemed valid until the next deadline (ie if validity ends in August, the award is valid until the November deadline).

Principles >

The core principles are being updated to reflect the expanded scope of the charter.

We are adapting the current principles to incorporate the new academic disciplines and professional and support staff. Principles will also reflect the progressive nature of the charter and intersectionality. We are still considering how best to embed consideration of trans equality.

  • All new members will be required to sign up to the principles of this charter
  • Existing institutional Athena SWAN members can chose to sign up to the new principles immediately
  • Existing members will be required to sign the new principles if they intend to enter a departmental application (for any discipline)
  • Existing members will be required to sign the new principles before they can renew an institutional application, but are invited to sign up to the new principles upon their launch.
  • All members will be expected to have signed the new principles by April 2016
Timeline >

Feedback from the consultation was clear that submission deadlines should continue to be at the end of April and November each year.

April 2015:

  • Launch of expanded Athena SWAN charter introducing application forms and processes covering expanded principles
  • Upon signing up to the expanded principles, current Gender Equality Charter Mark trial award holders will automatically become expanded Athena SWAN charter members and award-holders
  • Current Gender Equality Charter Mark trial participants without an award will be able to join the expanded Athena SWAN charter. Institutional fees and departmental applications will be waived in November 2015 for submissions from those institutions or departments that took part in the Gender Equality Charter Mark trial but who were not successful in securing an award
  • Renewals and applications for higher level awards using original forms and criteria accepted from STEMM departments and HEIs, providing the HEI became a member before April 2015
  • Applications using original forms and criteria accepted from institutions or STEMM departments that don’t currently hold an award, providing the HEI became a member before April 2015

November 2015:

  • Applications from AHSSBL-based HEIs and departments accepted for the first time
  • Renewals and applications for higher level awards using original forms and criteria accepted from STEMM departments and HEIs, providing the HEI became a member before April 2015
  • Applications using original forms and criteria accepted from institutions or STEMM departments that don’t currently hold an award, providing the HEI became a member before April 2015

April 2016:

  • All members to have signed the new expanded principles
  • Renewals and applications for higher level awards using original forms and criteria accepted from STEMM departments and HEIs, providing the HEI became a member before April 2015
  • Applications using original forms and criteria accepted from institutions or STEMM departments that don’t currently hold an award, providing the HEI became a member before April 2015

November 2016:

  • Final time that renewals and applications for higher level awards using original forms and criteria accepted from STEMM departments and HEIs, providing the HEI became a member before April 2015
  • Final time that applications using original forms and criteria will be accepted from institutions or STEMM departments that don’t currently hold an award, providing the HEI became a member before April 2015

April 2017:

  • Only new forms addressing the expanded Athena SWAN principles and criteria accepted for awards or renewals
Application options at a glance >

You can find a quick guide to your application options here:

Reporting on intersectionality >

Consultation respondents mainly welcomed the expansion to cover intersectionality within the charter. However, there was some concern about what data should be presented.

The Athena Swan charter principles will include consideration of intersectionality. Institutional level submissions will include questions on intersectionality, but will not at this point require detailed quantitative data. Further information on the level of detail expected will be provided in April.

Small and specialist institutions >

There was feedback to the consultation that the current application forms could be adapted to better suit the context of small and specialist institutions.

We will be consulting with these institutions further. Dependent on the outcome of this consultation, it is possible that we may release adapted application forms and guidance later this year.

Further details to be announced in April 2015 >

Due to the complexity of some of the issues, and differing viewpoints raised in the consultation, we are not able to give a definitive response to the following areas until the full announcement in April.

  • The most useful data format and requirements
  • How to ensure different employment contracts are considered effectively and efficiently
  • How to usefully discuss zero-hours contracts through the application form
  • How consideration of trans staff and students is included in the charter