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Supporting women in STEM research careers

The Athena SWAN Charter was established by the Equality Challenge Unit in the United Kingdom in 2005 to encourage the advancement of the careers and education of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

It has helped drive systemic change across the research system by encouraging more women to study STEM subjects and go on to STEM-based careers. A UK House of Commons report on women in science found that Athena SWAN was the most comprehensive and practical scheme to improve academics’ careers by addressing gender inequity

In September 2015 the Australian Academy of Science launched a pilot of the Athena SWAN Charter — Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE). Interest in the pilot is high, with more than 30 research organisations involved and others expressing interest in the programme.

SAGE will assess and accredit the gender equity policies and practices in Australian science organisations. This will drive systemic change that will increase the number of female researchers in senior roles, and the number of women with STEM skills and capabilities in the broader workforce.