Athena Swan Charter

Athena Swan Header Image

The Athena Swan Charter was established in 2005 and recognises commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.

In May 2015 the charter was expanded and now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

The University of Leeds is a member of the charter, currently holding an Athena SWAN Bronze award which
acknowledges our University-wide commitment to good practice in these areas. In order to extend this commitment to an equitable working environment the Schools across the Faculty of Medicine and Health are going for individual awards.

About the Charter

(following sections are taken from the ECU website


All Athena SWAN members have signed up to the principles of the Charter:

  1. We acknowledge that academia cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of all.
  2. We commit to advancing gender equality in academia, in particular, addressing the loss of women across the career pipeline and the absence of women from senior academic, professional and support roles.
  3. We commit to addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional and support functions. In this we recognise disciplinary differences including:
    - the relative underrepresentation of women in senior roles in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL).
    - the particularly high loss rate of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM)
  4. We commit to tackling the gender pay gap.
  5. We commit to removing the obstacles faced by women, in particular, at major points of career development and progression including the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career.
  6. We commit to addressing the negative consequences of using short-term contracts for the retention and progression of staff in academia, particularly women.
  7. We commit to tackling the discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people.
  8. We acknowledge that advancing gender equality demands commitment and action from all levels of the organisation and in particular active leadership from those in senior roles.
  9. We commit to making and mainstreaming sustainable structural and cultural changes to advance gender equality, recognising that initiatives and actions that support individuals alone will not sufficiently advance equality.
  10. All individuals have identities shaped by several different factors. We commit to considering the intersection of gender and other factors wherever possible.

Making Progress

There are three levels of awards available, designed to encourage continuous progression and sustainable change. There are awards for the whole institution, and individual departments and faculties can be conferred awards as long as their institution holds at least a bronze award. Award holders have to reapply to renew their awards every three years. These renewals also require evidence of progress and the successful completion of earlier action plans.

Bronze Award

A Bronze award recognises a solid foundation for eliminating discrimination and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff.

Silver Award

A Silver award recognises a significant record of activity and achievement by the institution in promoting equality and in addressing challenges across the whole institution. Silver award winners demonstrate that equality is well embedded within the institution or department with strong leadership in promoting the Charter principles.

Gold Award

A Gold award recognises sustained progression and achievement in promoting gender equality and to address challenges particular to the discipline. A well established record of activity and achievement in working towards equality in the career progression of women in STEMM should be complemented by data demonstrating continued impact. Gold departments should be beacons of achievement in gender equality and should champion and promote good practice to the wider community.