Equality and Diversity at SASA: the Athena SWAN Charter

SASA became a member of the Equality Challenge Unit’s (ECU) Athena SWAN Charter in April 2017. By becoming a member, SASA is committed to the charter principles on advancing equality and diversity.

The objective of the Athena SWAN Charter is to encourage and recognise the commitment of research institutes and higher education institutes to the advancement of equality and diversity.

The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005, evolving from the Athena Project and the Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN) that were both established to address the underrepresentation of women in STEMM-based (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) fields. The charter has since been expanded to consider other aspects of diversity, with a focus on intersectionality, in fields not limited to STEMM and considers academic, as well as, research institutes.

Women have been historically underrepresented in STEMM, especially at higher level job posts and this trend is still evident in many scientific institutions, including SASA. By committing to the charter, we hope to raise awareness on issues surrounding equality and diversity, and to continually assess and improve our current practices and work culture to foster a supportive and inclusive work environment for all of our staff.

As well as the legal and moral implications of inclusivity in the workplace and fighting discrimination, a diverse workforce can have many benefits for all members of that team. These include:

  • Improved well-being of staff
  • Higher productivity
  • Increased creativity 
  • A wider range of skills available 
  • Improved reputation of the institution

Research councils continue to acknowledge the need for institutions to commit to advancing equality and diversity in the workplace.

Research Councils UK (RCUK), which is comprised of major funding bodies including AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC and STFC, require applicants to provide evidence of action to address inequality and improve diversity.  A commitment to the Athena SWAN Charter, as well as gaining and maintaining an award, ensures institutes continually strive to promote equality and diversity amongst staff and students.

SASA has an equality and diversity committee involved in organising the Athena SWAN application for the Bronze institution award that comprises of volunteers from various different areas. 

If you would like more information on the Athena SWAN charter, please email Jennifer Sjölund or Jason Sumner.