Athena SWAN

'Inclusive' is one of the four core values at Charles Sturt University. Our commitment to gender equity is vital to attracting the best researchers and academics.

"Women comprise more than half of science PhD graduates and early career researchers, but just 17% of senior academics in Australian universities and research institutes. The loss of so many women scientists is a significant waste of expertise, talent and investment, and this impacts our nation's scientific performance and productivity." - SAGE

About Athena SWAN

Athena SWAN is an accreditation framework to address gender equity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine disciplines (STEMM) in higher education and research. Established in the UK in 2005, Athena SWAN has a proven reputation for creating a gender inclusive workplace. In Australia, Athena SWAN is run by Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE), a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. SAGE is funded by its member institutions and the Commonwealth government under the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Members commit to adopting 10 key principles within their policies, practices, action plans and culture.

The Athena SWAN Principles

  1. Ensure that gender equity, diversity and inclusion work is appropriately resourced, distributed, recognised, and rewarded.

  2. Undertake transparent and rigorous self-assessment processes, analysing institutional structures, systems, and cultures to identify the barriers to attraction, retention and progression for staff and students, and thus to gender equity, diversity and inclusion.
  3. Design initiatives based on institutional data, and national and global evidence of best practice.
  4. Monitor, evaluate, and publicly report on progress made, challenges experienced, and impact achieved, to inform continuous improvement.
  5. Actively incorporate Indigenous knowledges and perspectives to address the specific inequities and injustices experienced by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander staff and students.
  6. Consciously consider all genders, recognising that gender is not binary, and that trans and gender diverse people face specific inequities because of their gender identities.
  7. Take an intersectional approach to advancing gender equity, diversity and inclusion, recognising that people of any particular identity are not a homogeneous group.
  8. Engage with those most impacted by inequitable practice to proactively redesign and reshape structures, systems and culture.
  9. Increase the safety and wellbeing of staff and students by proactively and transparently preventing and responding to bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, gender-based violence and discrimination.
  10. Embed change in institutional governance and accountability structures; actively and visibly champion and promote gender equity, diversity and inclusion in our Institutions, the Athena Swan community, and across the sector; and hold ourselves and other senior leaders accountable for driving sustainable transformational change.

Athena SWAN @ Charles Sturt University

Charles Sturt was awarded an Athena SWAN Bronze Institutional Award in December 2018, and is one of the first Australian universities to receive this prestigious award. Following a two-year application period conducted by a Self-Assessment Team (SAT) involving more than 30 staff from across the institution, our application outlines 43 actions, developed to reduce gender inequity not only in STEMM but across the institution. These actions address issues identified in recruitment and induction; career progression and promotion; the gender pay gap; research; leave and flexible work arrangements; promoting inclusivity; and embedding the Athena SWAN principles within core business. These initiatives are outlined in the action plan [PDF].

Athena SWAN Awards are granted for a four-year period. Institutions need to apply for re-accreditation, based on demonstrated progress against actions identified within the initial application.

Our participation augments the Leadership Development for Women program and the Senior Women's Leadership Forum . Key members of the SAT were also involved in the planning and development of the Workplace Gender Equity Strategy (2018-2022), ensuring consistency and collaboration between the Strategy and Athena SWAN.

Quarterly newsletters

A key part of the Workplace Gender Equity Strategy 2018-2022 and the Athena SWAN Action Plan is the ongoing communication and distribution of information to staff regarding equity principles across Charles Sturt. In addition to training and webinars, a quarterly newsletter distributed to all staff, will contain updates on the progress of gender equity initiatives, case studies, research findings and other relevant articles and information.

We’d love to hear of any gender equity initiatives and good news stories from your area, please email details to

Upcoming initiatives


As part of the Athena SWAN action plan, we will continue to communicate to staff regarding Athena SWAN and equity principles through regular webinars. Topics include unconscious bias, privilege, life as an academic, and popular culture messages.

These webinars will be advertised through What's New and other communication channels.

For more information, or if you have a topic you wish to present, please contact us.

Get involved

The journey toward achieving gender equality is for everyone. These are some simple ways you can make a difference.

Schedule meetings between 10am and 3pm

Many people don't work '9 to 5' and may have caring responsibilities. When setting meetings, give attendees enough warning so that they can make alternative caring arrangements.

Support return-to-work staff

Be understanding through your colleague's transition. Some benefits for new and expectant parents include return to work days, flexible work arrangements, breastfeeding on campus, and parental leave for adoption.

Support promotion

Know a woman whose abilities are not being recognised? Encourage them to apply for promotion or take up leadership opportunities. This might be as a coach or mentor. Help them to identify their unique strengths and to sell themselves to others.

Thoughtfully use images and language

Your choice of image and language send a message. Sometimes we inadvertently present a limited view of opportunity or expectation. Remember when emoji presented a limited diversity of women's careers?

Listen and reflect

When you're having a conversation and hear something that reinforces gender stereotypes, question or point this out. Speak up when faced with sexist or misogynist ideas.

Contact us to find out more