Review of the Athena SWAN Charter
The establishment of Advance HE has provided an opportunity to evaluate a number of our programmes to ensure they are fit for current and future needs of institutions, individuals and the sector as a whole. While there has been much positive feedback about the impact Athena SWAN has had on gender equality in the sector and, specifically enhancing the career opportunities for women, concerns have arisen about the award process and administrative burden it places on our universities.
The Advance HE Board has therefore commissioned an independent review of Athena SWAN to ensure that it is fit for purpose and to advise on the process, policy and positioning of Athena SWAN in the UK. The review is being undertaken by a Steering Group chaired by Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel University London.
The Group is considering and making recommendations on:
- the purpose and remit of Athena SWAN,
- the requirements for each level of recognition,
- the application process and the administrative burden it places on institutions,
- the assessment of applications and the training and workload of assessors,
- perceived inconsistencies in the review process.
Steering Group Membership
- Ms Margaret Ayers, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Canterbury Christ Church University and member of Executive Committee of Universities HR (UHR)
- Professor Julia Buckingham, CBE (Chair), Vice-Chancellor and President, Brunel University London
- Mr Ben Browne, Chief Operating Officer, De Montfort University
- Professor Paul Carmichael, Associate Dean (Global Development), Ulster University
- Professor Dame Athene Donald, DBE, FRS, Professor of Experimental Physics, Master of Churchill College, University of Cambridge
- Professor Jenny Higham, Principal, St George’s, University of London, and Chair of the Medical Schools Council
- Mr Patrick Johnson, Head of Equality And Diversity, University of Manchester
- Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, OBE, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research, Innovation and Strategic Development), Swansea University, and Vice-President of the Federation of European Microbiological Society (FEMS)
- Mr David Sweeney, Executive Chair, Research England, Council of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
- Professor Paul Walton, Department of Chemistry, University of York
- Professor Lesley Yellowlees, MBE, CBE, Head of College of Science and Engineering, University of Edinburgh.
- October 2018 to 1 February 2019: Informal consultation with the sector
- March-May 2019: Formal Consultation with the sector
- June – September 2019: Formulation of Conclusions and Recommendations and consultation thereon
- September 2019: Steering Group reports to the Advance HE Board.
Between October 2018 and January 2019, the Steering Group is obtaining a broad understanding of the Athena SWAN experience through conducting an informal “soft consultation” with groups of stakeholders across the UK. The information gained from this exercise – along with the findings of an impact evaluation of Athena SWAN running concurrently and commissioned by Advance HE – will inform and shape the formal consultation with the UK sector which will take place over the period March-May 2019.
From February 2019 and throughout the rest of the review process, the Steering Group will identify and establish task and finish groups with expertise to advise on specific areas. Depending on the outcomes of the soft consultation, these may include assessment processes, clarity of application processes and data requirements.
The Steering Group will report their findings and recommendations in September 2019.
The timeline for implementation of any recommendations will take account of the work currently underway by institutions and departments on Athena SWAN applications, and will incorporate an appropriate transition period for any changes that will affect applicants. Unless otherwise informed directly by Advance HE, existing award-holders and applicants planning to submit in or before November 2020 will not be affected by the review.
How to Get Involved
To facilitate participation from a broad range of stakeholders across the UK, members of the Steering Group are hosting various face-to-face meetings and webinars and conducting an online survey. These sessions are focused on six exploratory questions established by the Steering Group:
- What have you most valued about Athena SWAN, what are the benefits?
- What would you like the Steering Group Review to address?
- Who or what do you think Athena SWAN is for? Who or what do you think it should be for in the future?
- How can Athena SWAN be improved?
- What are the biggest challenges regarding Athena SWAN, and for whom?
- What will “good” or “success” look like in 10 years’ time?
Below is a list of face-to-face sessions taking place on the following dates:
|Advance HE, Westminster Tower||Oct 18|
|University of Manchester||Oct 18|
|NI Ulster internal/online||Oct 18|
|NI Ulster, QUB and Open University webinar||Oct 18|
|Medical Schools Council||Nov 18|
|Athena SWAN leads at University of Manchester||Nov 18|
|Council of Deans for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.||Nov 18|
|Graduate of the Aurora Programme at Brunel University||Nov 18|
|Oxford Brookes||Nov 18|
|Representatives of the University of Bath, University of Bristol, Bath Spa University, University of the West of England and the University of Gloucestershire.||Nov 18|
|Russell Group Directors of Research and Innovation||Nov 18|
|University College London||Nov 18|
|University of Cambridge||Nov 18|
|University of Sheffield||Nov 18|
|Midlands Institutions||Dec 18|
|Chartered Association of Business Schools||Dec 18|
|Imperial College London||Dec 18|
|London Higher Event||Dec 18|
|Royal Society||Dec 18|
|Russell Group Equality Forum||Dec 18|
|S10 Vice Chancellors meeting||Dec 18|
|Sanger Institute – AS Network, London/East Anglia||Dec 18|
|SRUC Campus – AS Network, Scotland||Dec 18|
|University of Reading – AS Network, London West||Dec 18|
|AS Eastern Network||Jan 19|
|City UoL||Jan 19|
|Durham University||Jan 19|
|Kingston University||Jan 19|
|Liverpool University||Jan 19|
|Meeting with Funders||Jan 19|
|Online Meeting||Jan 19|
|University of Wolverhampton||Jan 19|
|Online Webinar (public access)||Jan 19|
|Exeter University||Feb 19|
|Falmouth University||Feb 19|
|Athena SWAN working group||TBC|
|Nottingham EDI Group||TBC|
For details of how to participate via webinar on 24 January 2019 at 11am, please see the Athena SWAN review, soft consultation webinar.
You can now contribute your feedback about the Athena SWAN review via an online survey. This survey is part of the soft consultation being conducted by the Steering Group and it aims to collect high level feedback and insights from colleagues across the HE sector to inform the more detailed formal consultation on the future shape of Athena SWAN which will take place in the Spring. The survey will close on Monday 28 January 2019.
Details of how to be involved in the formal sector consultation will be provided herein March-April 2019.
Task and Finish groups
Details of the areas to be explored further by task and finish groups will be provided here in March-April 2019.
The Steering Group plans to test its findings and recommendations from July to September 2019. Further updates will be posted on this web page.
- Athena SWAN review underway
- Update from the Chair of the Athena SWAN Review, Steering Group
- Athena SWAN Review – update from the Steering Group
Athena SWAN Impact Evaluation
In November 2018, Advance HE commissioned a new independent evaluation of the impact of the Athena SWAN Charter in the UK in quantitative and qualitative terms. This research will build on previous evaluations and will run between November 2018 and February 2019. The outcomes of this research will inform future development and enhance the support Advance HE gives to institutions working towards gender equality.