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Athena SWAN

The Athena SWAN Charter was established by the Equality Challenge Unit in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in STEM employment in higher education and research. In May 2015 the charter was expanded and now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, including in the arts, humanities and social sciences. 

The Department of POLIS Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Committee was formed in February 2016 and includes academics, administrators and students. The Committee is putting a number of initiatives in place to highlight and promote gender equality, and is working towards receiving its Bronze Award in 2017.


The Athena SWAN Charter covers women (and men where appropriate) who are academics, support staff and students, in relation to their:

  • representation
  • progression of students into academia
  • journey through career milestones
  • working environment for all staff


The Athena Swan Charter

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.


The Self-Assessment Committee consists of:

Dr Glen Rangwala (Chair), University Teaching Officer

Dr Jude Browne, Director of the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies

Dr Iza Hussin, University Teaching Officer

Suzy Adcock, Administrative Officer

Helen Machin, HR Coordinator

Helen Williams, Department Teaching Administrator

Lydia Mizon, Graduate Secretary (MPhil IR&Pol)

Kaitlin Ball, PhD Student (POLIS)

Jane Lichtenstein, PhD Student (Development Studies)