The Athena SWAN Charter recognises and celebrates good practice towards the advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all.
There are three levels of awards:
The University has been a member of the Athena Swan Charter since 2008 and currently holds a Bronze Award. There are four national Patrons of Athena Swan: Professor Helen Beebee, Professor Sir Cary Cooper, Professor Dame Julia Higgins, and Professor Sir Paul Nurse. At the University of Manchester Professor Helen Beebee is a Samuel Hall Professor of Philosophy and Professor Sir Cary Cooper is the 50th Anniversary Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health.
The University and Gender Equality
The UK’s 2010 Equality Act provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for everyone. It merged various existing pieces of legislation, including the Equal Pay Act (1970), the Sex Discrimination Act (1975), and several acts relating to Employment Equality.
As a public sector organisation, we at the University of Manchester have the responsibility to ensure these are properly followed, as well as take action to promote and support the advancement of gender equality.
One way we do this is with the Athena SWAN Charter, which was established in 2005 to encourage and advance the careers of women in STEMM employment. In May 2015 the Charter was expanded to include non-STEMM Schools, professional and support staff, technical staff, and Trans staff and students. The Charter now also recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.
The University of Manchester has an Athena Swan Bronze Award. This represents the level where issues are identified and actions to address these are developed. Award levels progress through to Silver, for evidence of the impact of actions taken and Gold, which recognises ‘sustained impact’. Our Bronze Award, awarded in 2008 and renewed in 2011 and 2014, demonstrates our commitment to a culture change within the University towards a more inclusive, representative and progressive environment. The University will be applying to upgrade its award status to Silver under the new criteria, recognising the impact of gender equality actions and initiatives.
Individual Schools in the University also hold Athena Swan Awards; we have eight Schools which hold a Bronze Award and six Schools have been awarded at Silver level.
What can you do?
The Athena Swan Charter provides examples of good practice for higher education institutions, such as taking positive steps towards flexible working, introducing mentoring schemes, and generally aligning Athena Swan to the School and University strategies. In practice, ways to implement this may involve scheduling meetings between 10am and 4pm, ensuring gender balance on senior management committees and decision-making boards, considering the diverse responsibilities of staff when creating a workload model, and addressing unconscious bias present during assessment or interview selection procedures.
Each School works towards equality of opportunity and are committed to evidencing a real culture changes within the University and its individual Schools.