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Home Article Independent evaluation finds positive impact of Athena SWAN Charter

Independent evaluation finds positive impact of Athena SWAN Charter

Published: 30/04/2014

Record number of Gold awards also announced in latest award winners

An independent evaluation into the impact and effectiveness of Equality Challenge Unit’s Athena SWAN Charter has confirmed that the awards scheme advances gender equality and changes the working culture and attitude within participating departments and universities. The evaluation findings, produced by a research team from Loughborough University, were launched in London today as a record number of Gold award winners were announced in the latest Athena SWAN awards round, and the first group of successful research institute members were celebrated in an awards ceremony.

The Athena SWAN Awards recognise success in developing employment practices to further and support the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) departments in academia. The research team found that membership of the charter helped to advance women’s careers and had a positive impact on changing the culture and attitudes within member institutions. Universities and departments that hold Athena SWAN awards are more advanced in addressing unequal representation than those that don’t.

David Ruebain, chief executive of Equality Challenge Unit, said:

‘We are, of course, delighted with the findings of this independent evaluation. At a time when universities and departments have to target resources where they will make the biggest difference, I hope it will be reassuring to know there is independent evidence of the sustainable impact working towards an Athena SWAN award can have. The report also underlines that it isn’t only female academics that benefit from involvement in our charter. Men also benefited from initiatives such as flexible working. Administrative and technical staff in Silver award departments felt they also had more support for their career development and progression. However, we are not going to rest on our successes; we are going to continue to build on them. We welcome the recommendations for further development and improvement of the process that will ensure the charter remains effective and fit for purpose.’

Download an executive summary, ECU’s response and the full research report:

Winners May 2014 announced

A record number of three Gold awards were announced in the list of April 2014 winners today. Queen’s University Belfast’s School of Psychology, the University of Cambridge’s Department of Physics and the Department of Biology at the University of York have all achieved the highest level. Overall, 125 departments and universities submitted for an Athena SWAN award in this round, and 89 were successful – a 71% success rate. The disciplines with the highest number of submissions were medical and dental schools.