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Athena Swan at the OU

Athena Swan is an external gender equality Charter mark, administered by Advance HE.  Established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in STEMM employment in higher education, the Charter has been expanded to include arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law, and staff working in professional and support roles, and the experience of trans staff and students. It is used across the globe to address gender equality in HE more broadly, in all subjects, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

The OU submitted its first institutional submission in 2013 gaining a Bronze award and was renewed in 2016. We renewed again in 2020 and are aiming for an institutional Silver in our next submission. To prepare for Silver we are undertaking an ambitious four-year action plan, making changes across policy, practice and culture.

We also have ten departmental awards for OU Schools. All our STEM Schools have an award, with two Bronze and five Silver. The Business School became our first non-STEM School to be awarded a Bronze in 2021, with the WELS school of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport (ECYS) following with a Bronze award also. 

Athena Swan work at the University is overseen by the central EDI team ( and the Gender Equality Steering Group (

Contact us

For more information on Athena Swan work at the OU, please email