Principles and Benefits


The six principles which Charter members are asked to accept and to incorporate into their action plans are:

  • To address gender inequalities requires commitment and action from everyone, at all levels of the organisation
  • To tackle the unequal representation of women requires changing cultures and attitudes across the organisation
  • The absence of diversity at management and policy-making levels has broad implications which the organisation will examine
  • The high loss rate of women in academia is an urgent concern which the organisation will address
  • The system of short-term contracts has particularly negative consequences for the retention and progression of women, which the organisation recognises
  • There are both personal and structural obstacles to women making the transition from PhD into a sustainable academic career which require the active consideration of the organisation


Athena SWAN awards, and the application process involved, help Schools and Research Institutes improve the recruitment, retention and promotion of female academics. The awards therefore play a significant role in helping Schools and Research Institutes carry out research at the highest standards of international excellence and maintain a competitive advantage. The process of reviewing and establishing good working practices around induction, staff development, training and flexible working as part of an Athena SWAN submission benefits the whole workforce.

In some research areas, future funding is likely to be tied to an institution’s commitment to Athena SWAN. Currently, the Research Councils UK expect those in receipt of RCUK funding to provide evidence of commitment to equality and diversity, and participation in Athena SWAN is mentioned as one piece of such evidence.