Athena SWAN and ADVANCE: effectiveness and lessons learned

Elsevier, The Lancet, Volume 393, Issue 10171, 9–15 February 2019, Pages 604-608.
Authors: 
Sue Rosser, Sarah Barnard, Molly Carnes and Fehmidah Munir

As educational attainment has increased globally in recent decades, women's participation in higher education (ie, university level or above) has also risen greatly. Although discoveries and practices within science, medicine, and global health have a tremendous effect on women, women's representation as researchers and leaders in these fields continues to lag. This Viewpoint discusses the current situation and interventions of two high income countries: the USA and the UK.

Increasing the pipeline of women receiving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees has not translated to comparable percentages of women in the STEM workforce in either the USA or the UK. Disaggregated US data show a higher attrition of women throughout their academic careers compared with men, resulting in lower proportions of full female professors—ranging from 10% in engineering to 38% in psychology. Further, US universities awarding the majority of research doctoral degrees have fewer full female professors, as well as fewer women at the lower ranks of assistant and associate professors compared with less research intensive institutions. Similar trends are evident in the UK: in 2014–15, women represented 47% of all postgraduate research students and 45% of academic staff, but only 19% of professors in science, engineering, and technology, 23% of all professors, and 29% of senior academic management. To address the underrepresentation of women, both the UK and the USA launched initiatives in the early 2000s to advance gender equity in STEM within academic institutions.