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The University of Southampton
DiversityEquality groups

Athena SWAN at Southampton

The University of Southampton is a founding signatory of the Athena Swan Charter and holds an silver-level Athena SWAN award. As a signatory, we recognise the specific challenges that affect men and women in academic careers, which leads to fewer women at senior levels of higher education. We are committed to addressing these issues, to maximise the potential of all our people.

Athena SWAN Silver Award
We're an Athena SWAN Silver award holder (since 2016)

The Charter was founded with six principles in 2005, focused on the specific issues preventing women academics progressing in STEMM careers. These were revised in May 2015 to recognise the barriers in other disciplines - including those for men, trans people and the impact of race. The Vice Chancellor signed up to these principles in January 2016, demonstrating our commitment to addressing them.

The Athena SWAN Principles

  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.

What does this mean for me?

As part of its submission for an Athena SWAN award, the University developed an action plan for addressing known gender equality issues. This first occurred in 2006 and was updated for 2009, 2012 and 2016, reflecting on action over the three years in-between and planning for the future.

The University was awarded a Silver Athena SWAN award in October 2016, following ten years of work at bronze-level. In addition, several academic units and faculties have chosen to submit for departmental awards, recognising their work to implement our policies and widen awareness of gender equality in their local area. For some faculties, this could potentially be linked to research funding too.

The development of comprehensive action plans, with responsibility shared across the University, will mean a coordinated approach to addressing issues such as planning maternity leave (particularly for postgraduate researchers), seeking promotion, gaining a permanent academic position, improving working flexibility and wider provision and support for childcare. There are many areas of good practice across the University, which we hope to share more widely too, such as mentoring relationships, women's support networks, core-hours policies for meetings and seminars, access to equality & diversity training and more.

Useful Downloads

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Participate and influence

We have formed an Athena SWAN Network with membership from each of the self-assessment teams across the University. All individuals interested in gender equality are welcome to join as well. The network aims to promote discussion of gender-related issues in the University, through a mailing list and regular networking meetings in the University, and to share learning between teams participating in Athena SWAN. Employees from all job families (including professional services) and faculties are encouraged to join.

Please contact or use our online contact form if you would like to submit feedback on the submissions, gender equality in the University or join our Athena SWAN network.

Athena SWAN Silver Award Resubmission 2019

FAQs to support the employee diversity survey 2019

Athena SWAN at Southampton

Most STEMM faculties or academic units have at least a Bronze Athena SWAN award, while our AHSSBL faculties are starting to form self-assessment teams to submit for an award soon. You can follow the links below to learn more about Athena SWAN work in each faculty or academic unit, or speak to the person leading that activity.

Lynda Brown collects the Silver Athena SWAN award for Chemistry, April 2015


Chemistry were awarded the first Silver Athena SWAN award for Southampton in April 2015, renewed November 2017.

Bronze Athena SWAN award statuette

Physics and Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy were awarded Silver Athena SWAN in November 2017; they also have an IOP Juno award.

Zepler Institute

Zepler Institute were awarded a Bronze Athena SWAN in April 2019.

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