The equality challenge unit (ECU) aims to progress the ‘cultural and systemic changes needed for institutions to remain competitive and attractive to talented staff and potential students in a global market’. Their charters enable organisations to apply for an award recognising their commitment to, and progress on, equality and diversity. They involve self-assessment, peer review and continuous progression laid out in an action plan defined by outcome measures.
In 2005, the ECU launched the Athena SWAN Charter to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine employment in higher education and research. In 2011 ECU undertook an internal evaluation charter and found clear evidence of a positive impact, both for individuals and at an institutional level. There was better representation of women on committees, improvements in the transition from postdoctoral researcher to first academic post, improved working practices to support career progression and growth in women’s networking across institutions.
In May 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women in terms of:
- Progression of students into academia
- Journey through career milestones
- Working environment for all staff
The NICR was awarded a silver Athena Swan award in 2015.
Our Athena SWAN applications and action plan can be found below.
NICR Athena SWAN Silver Application (PDF: 2.22Mb)
NICR Athena SWAN Action Plan 2016-2017 (PDF: 330kB)