The Athena SWAN Charter was established 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. Since 2015 the charter has expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law, and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender and black and minority ethnic equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.
The Department of Economics received the Athena Swan Bronze Award in 2021. The University of Essex was awarded the Institutional Bronze Award in November, 2017, in recognition of its continuing work to support women in STEMM. The University also joined the WISE Campaign in November, 2016.