At Aston University, we are committed to achieving gender equality and ensuring that there is representation, progression and success for all.

We are delighted to have been awarded an institutional Gold Award in March 2024 – a reflection of our work towards gender equality within our community as well as higher education institutions around the world. This recognition aligns with our Aston 2030 Strategy and commitment to be a university that is truly inclusive, entrepreneurial and transformational.

Initiatives that have led to the Gold Award include:

  • University wide commitment to gender equality with our College of Engineering & Physical Sciences holding Gold Award, our College of Health & Life Sciences holding a Silver Award, and our College of Business & Social Sciences holding a Bronze Award.
  • The creation Aston’s Inclusive Aston Community, within which 20% of all staff are members of at least one EDI network or group;
  • Development of inclusive support and policy around parentingmenopausedomestic violence, and miscarriage.
  • Continued work towards best practice in supporting people of all genders through the provision of multiple gender-neutral bathroom facilities, widely available personal hygiene products, and gender-neutral clinic wear.
  • A reduction in the professorial gender pay gap from 8% in 2019 to 5% in 2023
  • A reduction of our overall gender pay gap from 22% in 2018 to 17% in 2022 (mean hourly rate)
  • Specific activities to support women in their careers such as Young Women into Leadership,  British Council Women in STEM ScholarshipsCyber Kali Explorer event, and the Innovation Women Conference.
  • Our Inspiring Women at Aston Staff Network.
  • International support for gender equality in higher education.  

All Athena Swan application documents can be downloaded on our Equality reports and Accreditation pages.

Timeline of awards

Timeline of awards

What is Athena SWAN?

The Athena SWAN charter was originally set up to help women advance their careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) higher education and research.

The charter has since expanded its remit to support:

  • Academic roles in all disciplines, not just STEMM subjects
  • Gender equality work - this must be recognised, distributed appropriately, and rewarded
  • Negative cultures and behaviours tackled - including gender-based bullying and violence
  • Intersectional and structural inequalities - More active commitment to tackle these and a commitment embedded in proprieties
  • Inclusive of all gender identities
  • Caring responsibilities - to mitigate the negative and gendered impact of these
  • Professional and support roles.
  • You can read more about Athena SWAN on Advance HE website.

Athena SWAN at Aston

Key Senior Staff

University Athena SWAN Lead: Hannah Bartlett. Hannah supports all College and University gender equality initiatives, working closely with Jens Klots (EDI Data Officer) and Claire Richards (EDI Partner). She is experienced at analysing data, reflecting on trends, and designing interventions that are monitored via our Athena SWAN action plans.

Plan and Approach

To be successful in the awards, Aston needs to demonstrate that all staff and students are engaging in the Principles of Athena SWAN.

We have formed self-assessment teams for each School as well as for the University (this latter includes those not in a School). These teams are leading the analysis and review of the data and opinions that we gather, and will then implement actions and assess their benefits. If you would like to join one of these teams, or hear more information about the role or Athena SWAN, then please register your interest with the relevant person named below.

We have formed self-assessment teams for each College as well as for the University (this latter includes those not in a College). These teams are leading the analysis and review of the data and opinions that we gather and will then implement actions and assess their benefits. If you would like to join one of these teams, or hear more information about the role or Athena SWAN, then please register your interest with the relevant person named below.

  • University (Preparing for Gold) Professor Hannah Bartlett
  • College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (Awarded Gold) Dr Mirjam Roeder
  • College of Health and Life Sciences (Awarded Silver) Dr Olivia Hunt
  • Aston Medical School (Preparing for Bronze) Dr Afshan Ahmad
  • Aston Business School & Aston Law School (Awarded Bronze) Professor Helen Higson and Dr Lauren Traczykowski
  • School of Social Science and Humanities (Awarded Bronze) Aurélia Robert

Athena SWAN aims to achieve a better gender balance in Higher Education Institutions. Society is 50:50 men and women but our staff numbers (academic, teaching and research and professional, technical and support) are not so well balanced – particularly in some schools.

  • Detailed data and statistics for at least three years, compared with national benchmarks
  • (For Silver) A focus on improvements since Bronze, especially through priority initiatives
  • (For Gold) A focus on improvements since Silver, especially through evidence of longitudinal improvement, and sector-leading gender equality practice and supporting others to improve
  • All staff and students engaged in developments and implementation of initiatives
  • Evaluation, with consultation and feedback
  • Demonstration of embedding of the Principles through leadership and communication sustainably
  • Actions that involve and assist all gender identities and intersectionalities
  • Consideration of gender equality as an integral part of what everyone does (similar to working and studying safely, ethically and legally)
Charter Principles

In determining our priorities and interventions, we commit to:

  1. adopting robust, transparent and accountable processes for gender equality work, including: a embedding diversity, equity and inclusion in our culture, decision-making and partnerships, and holding ourselves and others in our institution/institute/department/directorate accountable b undertaking evidence-based, transparent self-assessment processes to direct our priorities and interventions for gender equality, and evaluating our progress to inform our continuous development c ensuring that gender equality work is distributed appropriately, is recognised and properly rewarded.
  2. addressing structural inequalities and social injustices that manifest as differential experiences and outcomes for staff and students
  3. tackling behaviours and cultures that detract from the safety and collegiality of our work and study environments, including not tolerating gender-based violence, discrimination, bullying, harassment or exploitation
  4. understanding and addressing intersectional inequalities
  5. recognising that individuals can determine their own gender identity, and tackling the specific issues faced by trans and non-binary people
  6. examining gendered occupational segregation, and elevating the status, voice and career opportunities of any identified under-valued and at-risk groups
  7. mitigating the gendered impact of caring responsibilities and career breaks, and supporting flexibility and the maintenance of a healthy ‘whole life balance’
  8. mitigating the gendered impact of short-term and casual contracts for staff seeking sustainable careers.

For the University

  • Reduced impact of staff turnover
  • Attraction and retention of good staff
  • More stimulating and motivated environment
  • More engaged and effective employees
  • Grant successes:

Research Councils UK states in its ‘Statement of Expectations for Equality and Diversity’, “RCUK expects that equality and diversity therefore is embedded at all levels and in all aspects of normal research practice… RCUK will reserve the right to introduce more formal accreditation requirements for grant funding should significant improvement not be evidenced.’’

REF 2021 guidance outlines, “evidence for supporting equality and diversity… recommendation that the evidence included participation in schemes such as Athena SWAN”

For individuals

  • Improved recruitment, induction, career development and progression pathways
  • Improved career satisfaction and motivation
  • Recognition of personal circumstances and aspirations
  • Greater flexibility in working environment
  • Knowledge of and fairness in promotion processes
  • Greater communication, understanding and acceptance of roles and responsibilities.
Charter Principles

The Athena SWAN Charter is based on ten key principles. By being a member of Athena SWAN, the University is committing to a progressive Charter, adopting these principles within their policies, practices, action plans and culture.

  • We acknowledge that academia cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of all.
  • 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.
  • 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).

  • We commit to tackling the gender pay gap.
  • 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.
  • We commit to addressing the negative consequences of using short-term contracts for the retention and progression of staff in academia, particularly women.
  • We commit to tackling the discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • All individuals have identities shaped by several different factors. We commit to considering the intersection of gender and other factors wherever possible.
Examples of Good Practice
  • Mentoring/coaching for staff and students
  • Inspiring women @Aston
  • Research into gender issues (Prof Gina Rippon, Judith Baxter, Prof Richard Crisp, Prof Mark Hart, Carol Marley, Crissie Rodgers, Jane Andrews, Pam Lowe)
  • Recognition and awards, internal and external (eg. Aston Excellence Awards)
  • Encourage schoolgirls into engineering careers
  • Equality and Diversity Forum
  • Aston University Women’s Forum
  • Aston Women in Business Society
  • Annual WES student conference on campus
  • Aston Book Club
  • Leadership Foundation National Aurora Programme
  • Aston Women’s Leadership Development Programme
  • Early Career Research Forum
  • Every researcher counts (VITAE)
  • Equality Policy
  • Comprehensive induction and re-induction after career breaks
  • Flexible working/career breaks
  • Maternity cover for teaching and research
  • Expanded nursery
  • Careers and placements advice for students and graduates
  • Disability network
  • LGBT network
  • Student Union
  • Women returners career breaks
  • Menopause Focus Group
  • Menopause Mentors

For details on any of these initiatives, please contact Hannah Bartlett.