SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN in Australia: Call for Applications

Over a two-year period, up to 20 universities, medical research institutes and publicly funded research agencies will be selected to participate in the SAGE Pilot. The Pilot will commence in August 2015 and require participants to collect, analyse and present data on gender equity policies and practices in STEM departments, as well as identify gaps and opportunities for improvement. Participants will work towards an Athena SWAN Award at the Institutional Bronze level, which is a mandatory requirement for future Silver and Gold awards at the institutional and departmental levels.

**Call for applications are now closed for STEM institutions to participate in the SAGE Pilot.**

Call for Applications

Applications to participate in the Pilot are due on Monday the 20th of July 2015. Applications must be submitted with a letter of support from the institution’s VC, Director or equivalent (see Appendix B) as well as the completed application form detailing the institution’s existing gender equity policies and programs (Appendix C).

Participation in the Pilot includes two elements:
1. Data collection and analysis of gender equity policies and procedures
Pilot participants will be required to nominate a senior STEM researcher to lead a gender-balanced team to collect, analyse and present institutional data about existing gender equity policies and practices, as well as identifying gaps and opportunities for improvement. Pilot participants will also be required to attend ongoing workshops and other activities to prepare their data, which will be assessed in fulfilment of an Athena SWAN Bronze Institutional Award. The final submission will be completed in August 2017, and then subject to peer-review in late 2017. Institutions that are successful will receive their awards in early 2018. Awards are valid for four years, and are subject to annual administration fees.

2. Independent review of the Pilot
Pilot participants will additionally undergo interviews and other activities providing feedback on their experience of undertaking the SAGE Pilot, in order to better adapt materials and further improve the administration of Athena SWAN in Australia.


Applications will be competitively judged in order to obtain a wide range of institutional types and sizes, to test the implementation of Athena SWAN in Australia. To become involved in the SAGE Pilot, applications require a letter from the VC, Director or equivalent (Appendix B, below) and a summary of the institution’s existing gender equity policies (Appendix C). Further details about how to apply, fees and deadlines are found in the the SAGE Call for Applications to Participate in the Pilot of Athena SWAN in Australia. For further information, see:

  • Appendix A Athena SWAN Awards. Summary of the how the Athena SWAN Bronze, Silver and Gold Institutional Awards will operate in Australia, as well as discussion of departmental awards for the future and how awards may be renewed
  • Appendix B Institutional Letter Template. Template for a letter signed by CV/Director or equivalent demonstrating institutional commitment of personnel and resources required to participate in the SAGE Pilot, as well as acknowledgement that the institution will work to demonstrate its commitment to the 10 Athena SWAN Principles (detailed below)
  • Appendix C Institutional Application Form. Template nominating a senior STEM researcher to lead a gender-balanced team to collate data an analysis in fulfilment of the institution’s submission for Athena SWAN accreditation. The template also requires an overview of the institution’s gender statistics, existing gender equity policies and programs, and a checklist of requirements.

Please also view our FAQs page for help completing the application.


In order to participate in the SAGE Pilot, there is an annual cost for each of the two years of the Pilot. The fees are tiered for small, medium and large organisations. The Australian Academy of Science is overseeing the SAGE Pilot from 2015 to August 2017, after which time a new independent body will take over the administration of the Athena SWAN Charter in Australia in perpetuity. Annual fees may apply for subsequent years beyond the Pilot, to retain membership and accreditation with Athena SWAN under the new governing body.

Learn More

If your institution would like to participate in the SAGE Pilot, please get in contact with the SAGE Project Manager, Dr Zuleyka Zevallos.


Frequently Asked Questions from the 2015 Call for Applications

What data should we include in “Description of the Institution” (Section 2) of the application?
You might begin with data that you already have at hand. The intention of this section is to gain a broad overview of the position of your institution in STEMM.  break down this data further for deeper analysis of sections of your institution. Bear in mind:

  • Headcounts are usually better to use than FTEs
  • “All staff” refers to all staff in the institute, not just STEM staff.
  • if you have data for individual departments, for simplicity at this point include the entire department in this overall summary if their main activity is STEM (including clinical/medical)
  • please make all data as current as possible. However, for example, student and staff data can be current for different times (e.g. September 2014 for staff and March 2015 for students)
  • include a note as to what your data includes (or excludes) for greater specificity (optional)

these are the areas for which we want you to report on. For the purpose of the application it is fine for you to make your own internal choices on which departments to include.

  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
  • Chemical Sciences
  • Earth Sciences
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Biological Sciences
  • Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
  • Information and Computing Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Technology
  • Medical and Health Sciences
  • Built Environment and Design

What if we do not have all of the requested information on gender and positions available?

Simply provide us with their data you do have on your staff/student numbers. However be aware that part of the Athena SWAN Charter process will be collecting gendered data on your staff and students to assess what local issues you have regarding women in STEM.

How should we provide information on gender equity policies, programs and activities?  The application is strictly limited to 2 pages. To achieve this we are expecting applicants to provide hyperlinks to relevant documents and web resources on their gender equity policies, programs and activities. We are suggesting that documents not currently hosted on a website are put onto cloud locations (e.g. dropbox) and links to those documents are included in the application.

Will late applications be considered?
Due to the imminent start of the SAGE pilot in August and the need to assess applications we are not able to accept late applications.

What does the administration fee of the pilot cover?

  • Staff to oversee and support pilot activities
  • A license to utilise Athena SWAN Charter materials owned by the Equity Challenge Unit (ECU) in the UK, including a license to accredit organisations with Athena SWAN awards
  • Adaption of materials to the Australian research environment and development of baseline data
  • Extensive training of SAGE staff in Athena SWAN protocols
  • Participant workshops to facilitate data collection and preparation of applications (note, participants will be required to cover travel and other costs of attendance)
  • ECU oversight of the workshops and accreditation processes
  • Independent evaluation of the pilot’s outcomes and participant experiences.

After the pilot has concluded participant fees will be reviewed annually against ongoing operational costs. Additionally, significant contributions have already been made by several organisations to ensure the initiation and progress of the pilot.

Are participant fees based on number of staff in total in the institution or the number of staff participating in the pilot (i.e. in STEM fields)?
Participant fees are based on number of staff in the institution, not just those included in the pilot, and are designed not to disproportionately affect smaller institutions.

Section 1B asks for the names of staff who will be managing the pilot, but the application form only asks for one contact. What should I put in application form?
Simply name the team leader in your application. The application is prompting you to think about what staff will be managing the pilot but only need you to name the team leader.

If this is an institutional award why are we only collecting data on STEM?
The Athena SWAN Charter process has been developed and tested with the particular issues faced by the STEM fields, and thus data collection and reporting within a large institution of diverse fields is still only focused on departments conducting STEM activities.
Application of Athena SWAN Charter processes to other academic fields is currently being tested in the UK and, if successful, may be a part of future Australian Athena SWAN Charter accreditations.

Can my department within the University apply separately for an Athena SWAN Charter award?
The Athena SWAN Charter requires organisations to achieve an institutional bronze level award before any individual department, school or business unit is eligible to apply for accreditation in its own right. The Pilot will accordingly only accept applications for institutional Bronze awards.

However, there is nothing to stop a department from beginning preparations for Athena SWAN accreditation upon successful accreditation of its host Institute and we would encourage individual departments to consider organising resources towards tackling gender equity issues within the Athena SWAN Charter framework.

We already have a gender equity team but it is not gender balanced. Why do we need gender balance on this team?
Issues of gender equity do not only affect women but also create a culture where men are faced with fewer choices on how to balance their work lives. Therefore it is important that men from all levels of the institution also engage with this process so that it is not perceived as purely a women’s problem.
It is also important that there is acknowledgement of the importance of the time given to Athena SWAN Charter activities when allocating other administrative duties to gender equity team members.
Successfully implementing these changes will also count towards successful accreditation.

How senior does the nominated contact for the Athena SWAN Charter need to be?
It is preferable for the nominated contact to be in a position of authority within the institution; able to influence allocation of resources to action new policies. The work required to engage in the Athena SWAN Charter process is not the work of one person, but does require at least one person with authority to effect change.

Where can I get more information about Athena SWAN Charter processes?
All pilot materials will be made available to participants. Our project manager has visited the ECU in the UK and adapted Athena SWAN Charter processes for the SAGE pilot. This will take into account differences in the Australian research environment, including geographical distances, indigenous populations, funding and governance. However UK-focused material is available on the Athena SWAN Charter website from the ECU to view. Note that there will be differences in the Australian version, most notably that the pilot has a narrower focus on STEM.