Athena SWAN

Athena SWAN bronze award

Athena SWAN: an overview

Advance HE’s Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise 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 to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students.

In 2021 the Charter was transformed, and now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

The transformed Athena SWAN Charter:

  • helps institutions achieve their gender equality objectives
  • assists institutions to meet equality legislation requirements, as well as the requirements and expectations of some funders and research councils
  • uses a targeted self-assessment framework to support applicants identify areas for positive action as well as recognise and share good practice
  • supports the promotion of inclusive working practices that can increase your the retention of valued academics and professional and support staff, demonstrating your an institution’s commitment to an equitable working environment

Athena SWAN in the Humanities

The University of Oxford is currently a Bronze award holder, and the Athena SWAN work in the Humanities Division reflects institutional aims, but also supports faculties that are applying for an award.


The following Humanities faculties are in the process of applying for their first Athena SWAN Bronze award:

  • The Faculty of English BRONZE AWARD HOLDER
  • The Faculty of History BRONZE AWARD HOLDER
  • The Faculty of Music BRONZE AWARD HOLDER
  • The Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics
  • The Faculty of Classics

If you have any questions about Athena SWAN, or, as a member of staff or a student in a faculty, you would like to know more and get involved, please contact the Humanities Division's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Need documents? We have a dedicated SharePoint page with advice, guidelines and support.

Athena SWAN principles

The Athena Swan Charter is based on ten key principles. By being part of Athena Swan, institutions and faculties are committing to a progressive Charter; adopting these principles within their policies, practice, action plans and culture.

  • We acknowledge that academia cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of all.
  • 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.
  • 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)

  • We commit to tackling the gender pay gap.
  • 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.
  • We commit to addressing the negative consequences of using short-term contracts for the retention and progression of staff in academia, particularly women.
  • We commit to tackling the discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • All individuals have identities shaped by several different factors. We commit to considering the intersection of gender and other factors wherever possible.