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Home ECU’s Equality Charters Athena SWAN Charter Athena SWAN in Research Institutes

Athena SWAN in Research Institutes

In April 2014, Athena SWAN membership was extended to include research institutes (RIs). Prior to this, RIs could only achieve Athena SWAN membership and awards if they held higher education institution (HEI) status, or were constituent units/institutes in an HEI. Only independent research institutes focusing on science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) research were eligible to apply.

The extension of Athena SWAN to RIs was done at the request of those working in- and with- RIs. They identified that there can be similar barriers to career progression for women in RIs and that the Charter could be adapted because of the close relationship between HEIs and RIs.

In May 2015, ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter was expanded to include institutions, departments and research institutes that focus on the arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL) disciplines. This expanded remit includes staff in professional support roles, trans staff and students, and recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just the barriers to progression that affect women.

The research institutes application form has therefore been revised in line with the expanded criteria, and both the original and expanded forms can be found below.

Guidance for applications >

Applications for ECU’s Athena SWAN awards are accepted in April and November each year. The deadline is the last working day in the month, and the next deadline is Thursday 30 November 2017.

Applicants must inform the Athena SWAN team of their intention to submit an application two months in advance of each deadline.

The original pre-May 2015 Charter criteria and the expanded post-May 2015 Charter criteria will run alongside each other until the April 2018 awards round.

Guidance for completing the original pre-May application form can be found in the Athena SWAN Handbook (pre-May 2015 edition).

For applications under the expanded post-May process, ECU's Athena SWAN application handbook: research institutes should be read in conjunction with the application form.

Applicants seeking a Gold award should refer to specific Gold application guidance.


Application forms >

Applications should be completed in conjunction with the Athena SWAN Handbook (original pre-May 2015 forms) or ECU's Athena SWAN application handbook: research institutes (expanded post-May forms).

Original pre-May research institute applications

Expanded post-May research institute applications

Note: the Gold research institute form was amended in February 2017.

Which application form should I use?

RIs joining from July 2016 onward should use the expanded post-May handbook and the related application form.

RIs whose membership of the Charter predates July 2016, can choose to:

  • to apply using the original pre-May 2015 criteria and application form up to and including the November 2017 awards round
  • to apply using the expanded post-May 2015 criteria and application form

Both new and existing members will need to send a letter of commitment to the expanded Athena SWAN Charter principles, before submiting an application using the expanded criteria.

Research Institute Advisory Group >

The purpose of the Research Institute Advisory Group (RIAG) is:

To meet and help Athena SWAN understand the structural and operational issues that may differ between research institutes and higher education institutions.

More information on the role and aims of RIAG can be found in the terms of reference

ECU organises regular meetings for members and full meeting information is sent via the RIAG jiscmail list. You can also contact the Athena SWAN team for more information.

RIAG JiscMail

All RIs who are members of the Athena SWAN Charter can sign up to the RIAG jiscmail list, which is an opportunity to keep in touch with Athena SWAN events and news, and to post anything which might be of interest to other members.

Eligible institutes >

Pre-requisites for applying using the research institute application process:

  • The applicant research institute must be independent of a higher education institution (HEI). Institutes which are constituent units of or institutes in an HEI, or hold HEI status, should apply using the HEI department/institution application form.
  • The applicant institute must be a member of ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter and signed up to the Charter principles.
  • The applicant institute must not have outstanding membership fees.

ECU’s Equality Charters team can provide advice regarding whether your research institute is eligible to apply.

Members >


  • Dstl
  • Institute of Food Research
  • Met Office
  • Moredun Research Institute
  • MRC Harwell
  • MRC Institute of Hearing Research
  • National Oceanography Centre
  • Natural History Museum
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council
  • SKA (Square Kilometre Array) Organisation
  • The Francis Crick Institute
  • The Sainsbury Laboratory
  • Zoological Society of London

Details of award holders can be found here

Events >
Membership fees >

The membership fee for research institutes is £2000. There are no application fees.