Athena Swan principles
SAGE uses the following version of the Athena Swan principles, which have been adapted for the Australian context.
In becoming SAGE subscribers, institutions commit to upholding these principles.
- Ensure that gender equity, diversity and inclusion work is appropriately resourced, distributed, recognised, and rewarded.
- 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.
- Design initiatives based on institutional data, and national and global evidence of best practice.
- Monitor, evaluate, and publicly report on progress made, challenges experienced, and impact achieved, to inform continuous improvement.
- Actively incorporate Indigenous knowledges and perspectives to address the specific inequities and injustices experienced by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander staff and students.
- 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.
- Take an intersectional approach to advancing gender equity, diversity and inclusion, recognising that people of any particular identity are not a homogeneous group.
- Engage with those most impacted by inequitable practice to proactively redesign and reshape structures, systems and culture.
- 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.
- 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.
The principles were updated in 2021 to reflect learnings from the Pilot phase as well as recent refinements to the UK Athena Swan Charter.
A copy of these principles is included within the SAGE application form for an Athena Swan Bronze Award, which can be downloaded from the SAGE Members Portal.
To see how the UK’s Athena Swan Charter differs from SAGE’s, visit the Advance HE website.
Athena Swan Bronze Award
Institutions start their SAGE Athena Swan journey by applying for a Bronze Award. In their Bronze Award application, institutions must show that they:
- understand the current state of gender equity, diversity and inclusion in the organisation
- understand the structural, systemic and cultural Barriers that impede attraction, retention and progression, and which thus contribute to inequity and a lack of diversity and inclusion
- have created, and will implement, an Action Plan to remove or reduce five Key Barriers
The Athena Swan Bronze Award is valid for a five-year period.
SAGE Cygnet Awards
In the five years following their Bronze Award, institutions will implement their Bronze Action Plan to remove or reduce their five Key Barriers to attraction, retention or progression.
For each Key Barrier, they will submit a Progress and Impact Report documenting:
- their progress in implementing actions
- the outcomes and impact of those actions
- their learnings from any areas in which the desired progress, outcomes and impact has not been achieved
- further actions they will take to achieve or sustain the desired progress, outcomes and impact
Progress and Impact Reports can be submitted at any time during the five-year Bronze Award validity period.
Institutions that have achieved sufficient progress and impact in removing or reducing a Key Barrier (as demonstrated in their Progress and Impact Report) will receive a SAGE Cygnet Award.
The Cygnet Awards were introduced in May 2020 at a series of briefing sessions for the higher education and research sector.
To learn more about the rationale behind the SAGE Cygnet Awards and how they link to the Institutional Silver Awards, download the resources below.
- SAGE pathway from Bronze to Silver Athena Swan Awards: design elements [PDF, 304 kB]
- SAGE pathway from Bronze to Silver Athena Swan Awards: slides from May 2020 briefing sessions [PDF, 394 kB]
- FAQs from the briefing sessions [PDF, 237 kB]
Athena Swan Silver Award
Once an institution has achieved five Cygnet Awards (one for each Key Barrier), they may apply for a Silver Award. In their Silver Award application, institutions must show that they:
- understand the current state of gender equity, diversity and inclusion in the organisation, following the actions undertaken post-Bronze and SAGE Cygnet Awards
- understand the key structural, systemic and cultural barriers that continue to impede attraction, retention and progression, and which thus contribute to persistent inequity and a continued lack of diversity and inclusion
- have created, and will implement, an Action Plan to remove or reduce five (new or continuing) Key Barriers and embed sustainable change
The Silver Award application process recognises organisational maturity in gender equity, diversity and inclusion.
The Athena Swan Silver Award is valid for a five-year period.
Last updated 5 July 2021