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Network groups

Staff networks are recognised as being crucial to the promotion of the University’s wider equality and inclusion agenda and through their activities, can help to open the door to changing the culture of an institution or organisation.

They provide members of staff who identify with a protected group or who have specific interests, with a safe, welcoming and practical platform; where exchanging information, generating and sharing views and new ideas can be expressed in an informal environment. The networks also provide peer support, networking opportunities and social activities.

  • Athena SWAN (Charter for gender equality).
  • SunGen (Network for research in gender and sexuality).

Athena SWAN

Athena Swan Bronze award


Launched in June 2005, ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter evolved from work between the Athena Project and the Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN).

The Athena SWAN Charter is a scheme which recognises and celebrates good employment practice for women working in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM) 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.

As a university which remains committed to the principles of Athena SWAN, the University of Sunderland was one of the first, groundbreaking universities that was awarded Bronze Award status for the advancement and promotion of careers of women in SET.  Subsequently, we have continued to make significant progress and practical changes that address gender equality, and we successfully renewed our Bronze Award status in May 2014.


Launched in 2014, SunGen is a network for academics and students at the University of Sunderland who have research interests in gender and sexuality. Their aims are:

  • To expand interdisciplinary links across the university amongst those academics who have an interest in gender and sexuality
  • To promote an active research culture amongst academics in the area of gender and sexuality studies
  • To encourage debates and offer a space in which to exchange ideas
  • To extend a network between academics and students in the university in the area of gender and sexuality studies