Athena Swan offers a valuable framework for introducing policy as well as cultural changes that create a better working environment not just for women but for people of all genders. A 2019 impact assessment of the UK Athena Swan Charter found strong evidence that the Charter has supported cultural and behavioural change – not just around gender equality, but equality and diversity in all its forms.
Using the Athena Swan application process gives universities and departments the space to reflect on and identify organisational and cultural practices that are inclusive and address barriers to gender equality as well as the opportunity to celebrate their progress and success towards equality and inclusion. Athena Swan awards demonstrate commitment to gender and wider equality and enhance the attractiveness of departments to prospective students and staff alike.
Universities and departments applying for Athena Swan awards carry out a self-assessment of gender issues in their context and identify actions to address key inequalities over a five-year period. The new framework also invites departments to consider how intersectionality can be approached, and assessed, in departmental policies, practices and culture. To maintain awards, institutions and departments need to show evidence of progress (for renewals at the same level) and success of previous actions (for higher awards).