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Equality & Diversity

View the University of Cambridge's Athena SWAN Silver University award Application

Athena SWAN

Athena SWAN is a Charter to advance women's careers. It's Bronze, Silver and Gold awards celebrate good practice in recruiting, retaining and promoting women within Higher Education.

The Charter covers women (and men where appropriate) in:

  • academic roles in all academic disciplines
  • professional and support staff
  • trans staff and students

In relation to their:

  • representation
  • progression of students into academia
  • journey through career milestones
  • working environment for all staff

The University holds a Silver Institutional Athena SWAN award (2014) and it's strong commitment to Athena SWAN and progressing gender equality is clearly demonstrated at the highest level by the Vice-Chancellor:

"I am delighted to have overseen an unprecedented level of activity to support women and advance equality with the University. With the majority of our STEMM Departments holding Athena SWAN Awards and as one of only seven Universities with a Silver Award we must work hard to maintain our leading position within the sector. With the expansion of Athena SWAN to the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences I look forward to celebrating similar successes across all disciplines. The University is committed to ensuring a supportive and inclusive environment for all our students and staff"

     - Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor, 2015

The Charter has ten principles at its core, the benefits of which include retention of highly valued female staff, access to a network of contacts, and external recognition of positive action already taken.

In 2013, ECU commissioned a team from Loughborough University to undertake a comprehensive, independent assessment of the impact and benefit of the Athena SWAN Charter on participating higher education institutions and on the wider sector.

Race Equality Charter

Race Equality Charter (REC) is a national scheme designed by the Equality Challenge Unit that provides a framework for higher education institutions to recognise, investigate and challenge barriers to recruitment, progression and retention of ethnic minority staff and students.

The REC is designed to provide incremental recognition of improvement with different levels of award. The Charter currently has Bronze and Silver levels. Bronze award recognises that institutions have a “solid foundation for eliminating racial inequalities and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff and students” (please see REC Handbook). Silver-level institutions will have to evidence a significant activity, achievement and impact in promoting race equality and in addressing challenges across the institution. In addition, Silver-level applications need to evidence strong local accountability of actions and reflect institutional work on intersectionality.

The process of application for a REC award consists of self-assessment, peer-review and action-planning to ensure progression in the area of race equality. The self-assessment involves data collection and analysis with respect to all categories of University staff including Academic, Research, Academic-related and Assistant staff.

Higher education institutions that become members of Race Equality Charter commit to the following principles:

Five Principles of the ECU’s Race Equality Charter

  1. Racial inequalities are a significant issue within higher education. Racial inequalities are not necessarily overt, isolated incidents. Racism is an everyday facet of UK society and racial inequalities manifest themselves in everyday situations, processes and behaviours.
  2. UK higher education cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population and until individuals from all ethnic backgrounds can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords.
  3. In developing solutions to racial inequalities, it is important that they are aimed at achieving long-term institutional culture change, avoiding a deficit model where solutions are aimed at changing the individual.
  4. Minority ethnic staff and students are not a homogenous group. People from different ethnic backgrounds have different experiences of and outcomes from/within higher education, and that complexity needs to be considered in analysing data and developing actions.
  5. All individuals have multiple identities, and the intersection of those different identities should be considered wherever possible.

To learn more about the University participation in the Race Equality Charter, please click here or contact E&D Consultant Dr Joanna Jasiewicz at