The purpose of SAGE Ltd is to accredit and grant awards to Higher Education and Research (HER) institutions for gender equity, diversity and inclusion programs. Specifically, SAGE:
- administers under licence the Athena Swan Charter and Awards in Australia;
- accredits and grants awards to the HER sector for the advancement of gender equity, diversity and inclusion;
- raises awareness of the value of gender equity, diversity and inclusion more broadly; and
- collaborates with institutions across the higher education and research sector and government – nationally and internationally – to promote Australia’s gender equity, diversity and inclusion efforts and achievements.
A review of international gender equity activities and initiatives, together with a national workshop, led to the decision to pilot the Athena Swan Charter and accreditation framework from the UK’s Equality Challenge Unit (a unit of Advance HE).
The decision to pilot Athena Swan recognises the framework’s evidence-based approach to analysis, action and demonstrable impact. Monitoring of performance and impact is integral to the accreditation process and conferral of Awards.
An independent review of Athena Swan in the UK published in March 2020 found that the framework is effective because of the accountability required at an institutional level and the tools it gives departments to implement real structural and cultural changes.
While the report is focused on the UK’s scheme, SAGE has already made changes identified in the report’s recommendations as part of the Australian pilot. These include support for applicants and enhancements to the assessment process.
SAGE’s success and the effectiveness of Athena Swan in Australia was evidenced in the independent evaluation report Putting Gender on your Agenda [PDF, 648 kB]. SAGE has implemented learnings and recommendations from this evaluation.
In addition, an independent evaluation of the SAGE peer review process was conducted from May to September 2020. The findings from this evaluation, as well as SAGE’s responses, are presented in the Hartley Report [PDF, 1 MB].
In 2020, the SAGE Pilot transitioned to an independent entity (not-for-profit) company, SAGE Ltd, founded by the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, with its own governing Board of Directors and an independent Chair.
With the Federal Government’s further $1.8 million investment in the program, SAGE’s goal is to reach the entire higher education and research STEMM sector.
Government funding has also allowed SAGE to refine program subscription fees to increase accessibility and attract new subscribers to the program.
A series of briefing sessions were held in May 2020 to introduce a uniquely Australian pathway from a Bronze to Silver Award. In order to progress to an Athena Swan Silver Award, Bronze Award holders must first apply for and receive five SAGE Cygnet Awards, each corresponding to demonstrable progress and impact in a key priority area.
To learn more about the SAGE Cygnet Awards and how they lead to the Institutional Silver Awards, read the design elements and resources from the briefing sessions below.