Athena SWAN is a principles-based charter that commits the Institute to removing the barriers that contribute to underrepresentation. Athena SWAN is a tool for addressing gender challenges and to ensure that practices and policies present no disadvantage to any member of staff or student. It supports cultural and behavioural change, not just around gender equality but around equality and diversity in all its forms.
The Athena SWAN Charter was launched in Ireland in early 2015. Figures published by the Higher Education Authority (2016) highlight gender inequality as an issue for the higher education sector. The Gender Action Plan (2018) developed by the Gender Equality Taskforce includes a set of actions which are intended to effect significant change.
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. Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology has adopted these principles and seeks to embed them in all our activities.
- 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 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 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 tackling the gender pay gap.
- 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.
Athena SWAN at GMIT
GMIT is working to prepare an application for an Athena SWAN Bronze Award. This award recognises a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff. This will require GMIT to demonstrate an assessment of gender equality in the institution and development of a four-year plan that builds on this assessment.
Athena SWAN depends on assuming a collective responsibility for gender equality. To carry out this assessment and prepare a four-year plan, GMIT has established an Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team. The Self-Assessment Team (SAT) will undertake a thorough self-assessment within the organisation.
The Terms of Reference for the Self-Assessment Team are:
- To analyse and benchmark relevant institutional data on gender equality and intersectionality across the Institute.
- To engage and consult with staff and students on equality diversity and inclusion across the Institution – developing and analysing the data from an all staff survey which would address areas including gender and/or equality issues, work–life balance arrangements or caring responsibilities.
- To identify key gender equality issues/challenges faced by the Institute and propose an Athena SWAN action plan to address issues identified, taking into account issues and areas of intersectionality.
- To support the process of preparation of the institutional Athena SWAN Bronze award.
- To measure and demonstrate the impact of previous/ongoing gender equality activity across the Institute.
- To act as 'champions' for the Athena SWAN project in their department/area/campus, raising awareness, inspiring engagement of staff and students, attending events and encouraging active participation in the principles of the Athena SWAN Charter.