Self-Assessment Team Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference

  1. Purpose and Scope of Activities

The Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Athena SWAN program requires each institution to have a Self-Assessment Team (SAT). The purpose of the SAT is to:

  • Lead activities for the application for an Athena SWAN Award
  • Promote Athena SWAN through the institution, and particularly across STEMM areas
  • Regularly communicate progress, ideally through a direct line of report to Vice Chancellor/Director and/or senior executive. If possible, Athena SWAN should be a standing item on the agenda for senior executive meetings
  • Undertake scoping of available data, including existing datasets and relevant policies
  • Collect further data as necessary
  • Coordinate qualitative research among staff members, such as a confidential survey of STEMM staff
  • Interpret the quantitative and qualitative data to identify gaps and opportunities for improving gender equity
  • Coordinate the development of a four-year Action Plan based on the analysis undertaken
  • Present and finalise Athena SWAN application for 2022

Based on the Athena Swan Bronze Award Guidelines


  1. Organisational Commitment

The institutional support for the SAT is evidenced by UNSW’s public commitment to the ten key principles of the Athena SWAN Charter. These principles are endorsed by the Vice Chancellor and confirm the University’s guarantee to action, at the institutional level, by adopting the principles in the University’s policies, practices, action plans and culture.


  1. SAT Membership

The UNSW SAT has between 25 and 40 members. Selection of members is driven by two key principles:

  • Diversity: the SAT will have an appropriate gender balance, mix of career stage including students, cultural diversity, disciplinary mix, representation from professional staff and academia and people with a range of caring responsibilities. Indigenous representation and representation from UNSW’s Workplace Diversity is required.
  • Inclusion: the process for selecting members will include calls for expressions of interest and nomination of members from Divisions, Faculties and selected groups and networks. This will support self-nomination as well as nomination by formal units and informal networks across the institution.

The SAT may invite internal or external people to attend SAT or sub-group meetings as required and may establish additional working groups to address its objectives.


  1. SAT Members Role and Workload Expectations

The role of the Athena SWAN SAT is to coordinate the process of data gathering, analysis and action planning that forms the basis of the application for an Athena SWAN Institutional Award. The role may also involve participating in the peer review process of applications for SAGE Athena Swan accreditation.The SAT is a conduit for identifying the specific issues of the institution with respect to gender equity in STEMM. The SAT will identify strategies and plan actions to enhance gender equity, reporting to, and working in collaboration with, senior executives.

The work of Athena SWAN does not rest with the SAT alone. The SAT will draw support, knowledge and resources from senior executives, departmental leaders and staff throughout the institution. Taken from the Athena Swan Bronze Award Guidelines

It is difficult to define a specific workload commitment as it will vary during the year and week to week depending on the stage of the application. On average SAT members should commit 2 to 4 hours per week on SAT activities.

Supervisors must approve involvement of SAT members in the program and take this commitment into consideration in workload allocation.


  1. Membership Term

SAT members will be appointed for two-year terms that may be renewed, upon request by the SAT member and with the approval of the Academic Lead Athena SWAN and the majority of the SAT.  This may be appropriate, for example, to help the continuity of membership (e.g. during times of significant workplace change), retention of ‘corporate memory’ or  a specialist skillset, or to facilitate information transfer to newer members. If a member leaves the SAT prior to the end of their term, a call for nominations will be promulgated through the University Diversity and Inclusion Team. 


  1. Reporting Structure

The SAT will be Chaired by the Athena SWAN Academic Lead, and reports as a sub-committee to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Board (EDI).  If the Academic Lead Athena SWAN does not qualify to be a member of the EDI Board in their own right, they may request an item to be discussed or tabled at an EDI Board meeting via either the Director University Diversity and Inclusion or the Gender Champion who are each ex-officio members of the EDI Board.

Figure 1 shows the relationships between the SAT and other key committees.


Figure 1: SAT reporting structure

Figure 1. SAT reporting structure and relationships between the SAT and other key UNSW committees


  1. Communication, Engagement and Consultation

The SAT may seek input from experts within and outside the university and the Women in Research Network (WiRN). Formal engagement with the Diversity Champions and the Chair of the ED&I Board will be through invitation to present at the SAT and through the SAT sub-groups.

Individual SAT members are also expected to engage at Division, Faculty or School level to promote awareness of the Athena SWAN program and provide two-way communication between the SAT and staff across UNSW.

An Athena SWAN update will be a standing item on the agendas of the Executive Team, Leadership Forum, Equity Diversity and Inclusion Board and Academic Board and will allow regular reporting of progress and formal feedback to the SAT from key leadership groups.


  1. SAT Structure

The SAT may establish sub-groups to focus on specific sections of the work of the SAT and the Athena SWAN Action Plan (ASAP). These sub-groups may be modified as required to meet the workload of the SAT.


  1. SAT Knowledge and Skills

A broad range of skills is required to complete the work of the SAT. Where possible, members will provide the expertise, knowledge and skills required by the SAT[1]. Where the skills are not within the SAT, or where the workload is outside the expectations of SAT members, consultation with expertise outside the SAT will be undertaken.


  1. Meeting Structure, Frequency and Attendance Expectations

The SAT will conduct regular meetings, about 6 times per year in total. SAT sub-groups, if established,  have discretion to organise their meeting structure and frequency.

An additional half-day planning and monitoring session may be held annually at the SAT’s discretion.

Engagement by SAT members with the SAGE Program Office activities, including regional and national meetings and symposia, will be strongly encouraged and supported.

It is incumbent on members to attend the SAT’s meetings unless absent from the University or otherwise prevented from attending. Members should endeavour to nominate a proxy to attend a SAT meeting when they are unable to attend themselves.

Leave of absence for one or more meetings may be granted by the Academic Lead Athena SWAN. A member who has missed two consecutive meetings without leave being granted shall be deemed to have vacated the position.

SAT members are encouraged to be aware of and participate in the University’s other equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.  An introduction to many of these can be found on the EDI website.


  1. Review

The Terms of Reference, roles and responsibilities and membership will be subject to a periodic review by the SAT or the Chair, to ensure it remains relevant and is performing all functions efficiently.