Biological Sciences

Athena SWAN

What is Athena SWAN and what award do the School of Biological Sciences and the University hold

What is Athena SWAN

The School holds a Silver award in Athena SWAN but what is Athena SWAN?

what is athena SWAN

‘The Athena SWAN Charter is based on ten key principles. By being part of Athena SWAN, institutions are committing to a progressive charter; adopting these principles within their policies, practices, action plans and culture.

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 relative underrepresentation of women in senior roles in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL)
  • 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 trans 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.’

Source: Advance HE website, 22 August 2019


At School Level

The School has successfully renewed its Athena SWAN Silver award, in recognition of its success in providing positive support for women during their careers. The renewal was submitted in April 2016 and awarded in September 2016. Our original Athena SWAN silver was awarded in 2013. Due to changes to the Athena SWAN award process in 2020, and disruptions associated with Covid-19, School of Biological Sciences has been given an extension on their 2016 Silver award until April 2022. The School continues to systematically work towards objectives and targets that further gender equality.

At University Level

The University of Edinburgh achieved an Athena SWAN Institution Silver Award in 2015.

University of Edinburgh Athena SWAN submission


Athena SWAN 'tips for success'

David Gray and Meriem El Karoui feature in the Wellcome Trust video 'Athena SWAN awardees share tips for success'