Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) is a UK based organisation that works to support equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education institutions. They support universities and colleges to build an inclusive culture that values the benefits of diversity, to remove barriers to progression and success for all staff and students, and to challenge and change unfair practices that disadvantage individuals or groups.
Advance HE is a UK organization formed by the merger of the Equality Challenge Unit, the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.
Advance HE established the Athena SWAN Charter in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.
In May 2015 the Charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for ‘trans’ staff and students. The Charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.
Advance HE’s Athena SWAN Charter covers women (and men where appropriate) in:
- academic roles in STEMM and AHSSBL
- professional and support staff
- ‘trans’ staff and students
In relation to their:
- progression of students into academia
- journey through career milestones
- working environment for all staff
UCD holds a Bronze Athena SWAN award. This award recognises that the institution has a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff. In September 2019 the School of Medicine was awarded a Departmental Bronze Athena SWAN award. Bronze Department awards recognise that in addition to institution-wide policies, the Department is working to promote gender equality and to identify and address challenges particular to the Department and discipline. A four-year action plan was put in place to address the challenges that exist to promote gender equality in the School of Medicine.
In April 2023, the School will need to apply to either renew their Bronze award or apply for a Silver award. In addition to the future planning required for Bronze department recognition, Silver department awards recognise that the Department has taken action in response to previously identified challenges and can demonstrate the impact of these actions.