Athena SWAN Application Process and Guidance

Athena SWAN awards recognise and celebrate good practice in recruiting, retaining and promoting women in STEMM in higher education.

There are two award rounds each year - deadlines are the last working day in April and in November. Awards are valid for 3 years, by which point they must be renewed. There are 3 levels of award requiring specific action and evidence for achievement.

Athena SWAN Bronze

  • Demonstrate particular challenges and plan activities for the future
  • Use quantitative and qualitative assessment to identify challenges and opportunities
  • Have a plan that builds on this assessment, and lessons from any activities already in place

Athena SWAN Silver

  • Demonstrate particular challenges and plan activities for the future
  • Demonstrate that action has been taken in response to previously identified challenges
  • Demonstrate the impact of the actions implemented

Athena SWAN Gold

  • Demonstrate a substantial and well-established activity and achievement record in working towards equality in career progression in STEMM
  • Show initiative to increase numbers of women students
  • Demonstrate beacon activities in gender equality to the wider community

Departmental Self Assessment Team

The awarding panels are keen for diverse membership of the self-assessment team (specific group brought together to address gender equality and its Department's Athena SWAN submission), covering different levels within the department. It is important to balance administrative and human resources input with that of academics; Athena SWAN should be driven by the academic community. Moreover, the team should include men and women. The panel does not require that the self-assessment team is a committee in its own right; if the institutions and departments wish to include it under the umbrella of another group, that is acceptable, as long as it undertakes to follow the Athena SWAN self-assessment process. The panel expects evidence of a rigorous and thorough process, including regular meetings (three times a year as a minimum) and varied methods of data collection (both qualitative and quantitative).

More information about the construction and role of the Self Assessment Team can be found in the following document:

Athena SWAN Self Assessment Team - How To (PDF 195KB)


Data should be presented in tables and graphs with trends clearly highlighted and drawn out in the narrative. It is not advisable to present data in percentage form without referring to numbers. Data should correspond to the section heading and cover the three years preceding the submission. Where data is not available, this should be explained with reasons given (and, in most cases, a relevant action).

Good Practice

While it is recognised that good practice benefits men and women, Athena SWAN awards specifically recognise what is being done to address the under representation of women in STEMM, and to support and encourage their career progression. Accordingly, panels expect to see some evidence of gender-specific measures.

Guidance for Departments

Departments thinking of applying for an Athena SWAN award should contact the HR Officer (Diversity, Athena SWAN and Gender) in the first instance for guidance and next steps. The Equality and Diversity HR Officer will also be able to attend the Self Assessment Team meetings in an advisory capacity and to read draft submissions providing feedback for final consideration.

The following documents provide guidance to departments beginning the Athena SWAN process:

For any further information or guidance on Athena SWAN awards please contact Vikki Layton, HR Officer (Diversity, Athena SWAN and Gender) 0117 33(1 6750)

Note: some of the documents on this webpage are in PDF format. In order to view a PDF you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader Get Acrobat Reader