X Close

IOE Blog

Home

Expert opinion from IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society

Menu

Women in science: has Athena Swan lost its way?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital30 November 2021

Alice Sullivan and John Armstrong.

The Athena Swan charter was established in 2005 to advance the careers of female academics in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM). Yet it now discourages academic departments from collecting data on sex.

Athena Swan awards were designed to incentivise academic departments to support women. Monitoring gaps between men and women in recruitment and career progression was an essential criterion. Yet, Advance HE, which runs Athena Swan, now recommends data collection exclusively on gender-identity, not sex. As they state:  “Advance HE recommends asking a question about gender rather than asking a question about sex. This ensures equality efforts are … inclusive of a diverse range of gender identities.”

In common parlance, the term ‘gender’ is used as a synonym for sex, while sociologists often use ‘gender’ to (more…)