SAGE Athena Swan (Gender Equity)

SAGE logo

Athena Swan is an internationally recognised accreditation and awards program for gender equity, diversity and inclusion. UNSW Sydney is one of over 40 higher education and research institutions participating in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Athena Swan Program, and a proud member of the Athena Swan Charter.  

Athena Swan aims to embed genuine and sustainable gender equity, diversity and inclusion across the Australian tertiary education and research sector.  

Participating institutions follow the SAGE accreditation pathway:

Athena Swan Awards Australian Pathway
Athena Swan at UNSW (high-rez)

Athena Swan at UNSW

During 2015 – 2018, UNSW undertook an extensive self-assessment to identify and understand the gender impacts of its policies, processes and practices. 

Athena Swan Bronze Award

UNSW's Bronze Athena Swan Award

In 2018 UNSW received the SAGE Athena Swan Bronze Institutional Award. The UNSW Athena Swan Action Plan: 2018-2022 was a key part of our Bronze Award submission. The Plan outlines UNSW’s commitments to addressing the barriers to gender equity, diversity and inclusion, particularly in academia, and taking steps to develop a more inclusive culture where all staff can succeed.   


UNSW Cygnet Awards  

UNSW is currently working on the next phase of the program, known as the Cygnet Awards. After receiving the Bronze Award, an institution must obtain five Cygnet Awards to be eligible to apply for the Silver Award. The Cygnet Awards reflect progress made against key barriers identified in our Bronze Action Plan.  

The five key areas identified by the Athena Swan Self- Assessment Team (SAT) as barriers to gender equity at UNSW are:  

  1. Academic Promotions: learn moresee the submission
  2. Flexible Work and Care: learn more | see the submission
  3. LGBTQIA+ inclusion: learn more | see the submission
  4. Student pathways (STEMM)  
  5. Workplace culture 

The Athena Swan Team

UNSW's Self-Assessment Team (SAT)

Meet the members of our Self Assessment Team and read more about our Terms of Reference below.

Read More


Key Initiatives

UNSW Athena Swan supports a wide range of activities to advance gender equity at UNSW. This includes providing and coordinating feedback on updates to university policies and processes from a gender equity perspective, as well as providing support for events such as International Women's Day.

A series of focus groups were held in 2022 to explore the impact of the Athena Swan initiatives on the five key barriers, as well as identify future opportunities for improvement. These were, led by Associate Professor Sue Williamson, Deputy Academic Lead of the Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team.  

Participants with lived experience (UNSW professional and academic staff and students) were recruited across all faculties, with a focus on STEMM disciplines. 

We are grateful to the staff and students who provided their time and valuable insights in this process. Themes from the focus groups have informed a report, with the executive report available here.

Staff from seven Australian and Canadian universities were surveyed between July-October 2020 on working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost half of the responses (47.2%, 5,323) came from Australia and 639 of these were from UNSW.  

A follow-up survey ran at UNSW in April-May 2022, which included 266 UNSW respondents. Questions in the surveys addressed topics including: working from home, productivity and workload, ability to conduct research and submit papers, university expectations, job satisfaction, career prospects, wellbeing and work-life balance. 

UNSW engaged Laureate Professor Lisa Kewley to perform academic gender modelling for the STEM disciplines at UNSW, using 5-year data on promotions, hires, departures and retirements.  Professor Kewley is leading a range of new diversity and inclusion initiatives at Harvard and the Smithsonian where she is Director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Director of the Harvard College Observatory, and Professor of Astrophysics at the Harvard Department of Astronomy.

Professor Kewley has completed modelling for the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Engineering and UNSW Canberra. The Athena Swan project team are planning ‘Phase 2’ for Academic workforce models which will involve other Faculties, and will explore the desire for additional or updated analysis. 

UNSW collaborates with Parents at Work to provide support to UNSW parents and soon-to-be parents. Topics include: Preparing for Parental Leave, Returning to Work After Parental Leave, and Managing Mental Wellbeing for You and Your Family. Click below for more information on how UNSW supports UNSW parents.

More Information


During 2022 UNSW Athena Swan funded research into the outcomes of 3C, a pilot program to support academic women, with carer responsibilities. The research was undertaken by UNSW’s Social Policy Research Centre. 

3C is an initiative of the Women’s Wellbeing Academy led by Associate Professor Lizzie Muller and funded through philanthropic support.  

The program aims to assist participants to overcome the disadvantage many experienced by being disproportionately impacted by the intensification of care loads during the pandemic. As well as continuing academics, the pilot included sessional staff and post-graduate students with current or recent caring responsibilities. Participants took part in small-group career coaching sessions between 25 July – 30 September 2022, run by an expert facilitator. 

Other Gender Initiatives at UNSW

The Women in Research Network (WiRN) is UNSW's leading forum for research-active women to connect and collaborate to build an equitable and inclusive research culture at UNSW.  

The Women's Wellbeing Academy (WWBA) connects people across the UNSW community to enhance and highlight our diverse multidisciplinary work in the area of women’s wellbeing.

Get Involved or
Ask a Question

If you would like to get involved or if you have questions about UNSW’s Athena Swan program please reach out to us at:
Celebrating Women