The University signed up to the Athena SWAN charter in 2009. Since then, Engineering and Applied Science has been awarded a silver award for achieving significant progress in encouraging and supporting women in academic careers in science and engineering, Life & Health Sciences has received a bronze award and the University overall a bronze award.  


In May 2015, the Athena SWAN Charter was expanded and now encompasses the development and progression of ALL students and staff - MEN and WOMEN, academic, professional and support - and in all disciplines not just STEMM disciplines. 

Key Senior Staff

  • Executive lead for Equality and Diversity: Alan Charters 

  • Chair of the Gender Equality Project Management Group (GEPMG): Alan Charters

  • HR Director with responsibility for Equality and Diversity: Richard Billingham 

  • Executive Champion for Gender Equality: Helen Higson. In this role she will promote and foster the engagement of staff and students in relevant activities and networks, speak up for positive and practical changes to address gender quality issues and generally support the progression of our gender equality objectives.

The University and all Schools will apply for or renew Athena SWAN awards in the next 2 years, as indicated in the table below. 

To be successful in the awards, we need to demonstrate that all staff and students are engaging in the Principles of Athena SWAN.

We have formed “self-assessment” teams in each School and the University (this latter includes those not in a School). They are leading the analysis and review of the data and opinions that we gather, then implement actions and assess the benefits of them. If  you or your students would like to join one of these teams, hear more information about the role or Athena SWAN, then please  register your interest with the relevant person named above.

You can find a copy of the latest EAS application.

Athena SWAN is aiming to achieve better gender balance. Society is 50:50 men and women but our staff numbers (academic, teaching and research and professional, technical and support) are not so well balance, particular in some schools.

  • Detailed data and statistics for at least 3 years, compared with national benchmarks 
  • For silver – A focus on improvements since bronze, especially through priority initiatives 
  • All staff and students engaged in developments and implementation of initiatives 
  • Evaluation, with consultation and feedback 
  • Demonstration of embedding of the Principles through leadership and communication sustainably   
  • Actions involve and assist both men and women.   
  • Considering gender equality is an integral part of what everyone does (similar to working and studying safely, ethically and legally)   

  Athena SWAN is not just for women!

For the University

  • Reduced impact of staff turn-over
  • Attraction and retention of good staff
  • More stimulating and motivated environment
  • More engaged and effective employees

Grant Successes Research Councils UK states in its ‘Statement of Expectations for Equality and Diversity’:

“RCUK expects that equality and diversity therefore is embedded at all levels and in all aspects of normal research practice.” and …

‘‘RCUK will reserve the right to introduce more formal accreditation requirements for grant funding should significant improvement not be evidenced.’’

REF 2014 - ….. evidence for supporting equality and diversity….recommendation that the evidence included participation in schemes such as Athena SWAN”

For individuals, teams, men and women:

  • Improved recruitment, induction, career development and progression pathways
  • Improved career satisfaction and motivation
  • Recognition of personal circumstances and aspirations
  • Greater flexibility in working environment
  • Knowledge of and fairness in promotion processes
  • Greater communication, understanding and acceptance of roles and responsibilities

The Athena SWAN Charter is based on ten key principles. By being a member of Athena SWAN, the University is committing to a progressive Charter, adopting these principles within their policies, practices, action plans and culture. 

  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) and 
    • 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.

View the Equality & Diversity Committee Structure for more information.

Implementing Athena SWAN in:

  1. Engineering and Applied Science
  2. Language and Social Science 
  3. Aston Business School (Awaiting information)
  4. Aston Medical School (Awaiting information)
  5. Life and Health Science (Awaiting information)

Unconscious bias periodical training is available for Aston staff via the HR Staff Portal. Simply search "Unconscious Bias" in the "Book a Course" area.

The mandatory e-learning course can be accessed via  Blackboard. 

Unconscious bias - More Information