Open Menu Close Menu

Home Article Athena SWAN welcomes Research Institutes to the Charter

Athena SWAN welcomes Research Institutes to the Charter

Published: 01/04/2014

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills provide grant to support expansion of the Charter

From today (Tuesday 1 April 2014), sixty-five research institutes will be eligible to join ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter. The Charter recognises excellence in women’s employment in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) in UK higher education.

For the first time, STEMM-focussed research institutes that aren’t part of a higher education institution, or don’t have HEI status, can become members and apply for Athena SWAN awards. The newly-eligible research institutes include a diverse range of organisations such as CERN (creators of the Large Hadron Collider), the Genome Analysis Centre and the Natural History Museum.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has awarded a £32,000 grant to support ECU’s development of the charter mark to meet the specific needs of research institutes.

David Willetts, universities and science minister said:

‘Research institutes play a substantial role in producing world-class research and helping the UK deliver global excellence. We support this expansion of the Athena SWAN Charter to research institutes as an opportunity to ensure that the potential of women throughout the workforce is retained and encouraged. Such a visible commitment to developing excellence in employment practices can only assist in keeping the UK performing on a global stage.’

The expansion of the Athena SWAN Charter was developed following a pilot in which six research institutes were successful in achieving an Athena SWAN award:

  • British Geological Survey – Bronze award
  • James Hutton Institute – Bronze award
  • John Innes Centre – Silver award
  • MRC National Institute for Medical Research – Bronze award
  • Pirbright Institute – Bronze award
  • Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute – Bronze award

ECU owns and manages the Athena SWAN Charter. Chief executive David Ruebain said:

‘Research institutes are part of the academic community and share many of the structures and barriers to career progression experienced by women in universities. We know that the strong methodology and robust process of the Charter can create cultural and systemic change that has a real impact. We are delighted to be able to expand the Athena SWAN Charter and affect wider change for women in the academy.

I would like to congratulate the six successful pilot institutes on achieving their awards – their experiences during the pilot have allowed us to develop the Charter to reflect the unique challenges that research institutes face. We look forward to welcoming further research institutes as members in the future.’

The successful research institute winners will receive their awards at a ceremony in London on 1 May 2014. The event will also include a workshop for new research institute members as they embark on applying for their bronze Athena SWAN awards.