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Advance HE statement on the UK Athena Swan Charter

06 Nov 2021 | Advance HE Advance HE responds to recent media reports about the Charter

Advance HE runs the UK Athena Swan Charter on behalf of and for the higher education sector to help participating HE institutions to work towards gender equality.

The Charter supports institutions by providing a framework to develop their own plans and initiatives to create inclusive teaching and research environments – it is not a training scheme. Moreover, seeking accreditation against the Charter is entirely voluntary and not prescriptive. The Charter is not linked to funding.

We recognise the evolving social and legal landscape regarding data monitoring and rights in relation to sex and gender. Like many organisations we are reviewing our guidance. We also work closely with the sector on the ongoing development of the charter through the Athena Swan Governance Committee. In response to the changing landscape in relation to sex and gender we will continue these efforts to ensure it is fit for purpose and inclusive. As with everything we do, our members are at the heart of our considerations, and we’ll provide updated guidance as well as briefings on the rationale and outcome of our review.

We are conscious that terminology can often be personal and reflective of personal experiences. We are also aware that terminology changes quickly, often with a complexity of views and debate underlying the language used. As understanding of sex and gender across the sector and wider society continues to evolve, we will continue to review the terminology we use. We are committed to openness for these important conversations.

We will continue to support the sector in its critical work to address inequalities. We believe that the Charter is a robust framework for institutions to promote inclusive working practices for academics and professional and support staff, and that helps to create equitable working environments.


We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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