SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN

UNSW's involvement in the program

UNSW, along with 31 other institutions, is participating in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Pilot of Athena SWAN in Australia. The program aims to address the underrepresentation of women in the science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) disciplines.
The statistics across the sector show that while women comprise more than half of science PhD graduates and early career researchers they make up just 17% of senior academics in Australian universities and research institutes. Following the success of the Athena SWAN Charter which was launched in the UK, the SAGE program is now being piloted in Australia.
Organisations that apply for an Athena SWAN Bronze Institutional Award must demonstrate a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff. The submission process takes around two years including preparation, training and collating evidence. Winners of the Bronze Award will be announced in mid-2018.
UNSW has formed a Self-Assessment Team to work on its SAGE submission. The team is being led by Professor Laura Poole-Warren, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Training) and Dean of Graduate Research.

Fast facts about SAGE

  • SAGE is an initiative of the Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering that addresses gender equity in the STEMM sector.
  • The Australian program has been adapted from the Athena SWAN Charter, established in the UK in 2005.
  • It is an accreditation and improvement program for higher education and research organisations focused on gender and other forms of inequality.
  • In the UK, the Athena SWAN Charter has proved successful in transforming gender equity action to improve the promotion and retention of women and gender minorities within STEMM.
  • The SAGE pilot in Australia was launched in September 2015.
  • Australia is the first nation outside the UK and Ireland to pilot the Athena SWAN Charter program.
  • Thirty-two institutions around Australia are taking part in the SAGE pilot.

Background on the Athena SWAN Charter

The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 in the UK by the Equality Challenge Unit in response to chronic under-representation of women in science leadership. To participate in the Athena SWAN Awards Program, institutions must first accept the ten charter principles, and then begin the process of collecting and analysing data, developing and implementing action plans, and monitoring progress. Results are submitted for peer-review to qualify for Bronze, Silver or Gold awards.

The Ten Principles of the Athena SWAN Charter

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 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 transgender 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.