Minister of Science launches consultations for a “made-in-Canada” Athena SWAN initiative

News release

June 22, 2018, Ottawa ON

Canada’s greatest potential can only be realized when all people, including women, are welcomed into the lab, the classroom and the field. That is why the Government of Canada is taking action to improve equity, diversity and inclusion in the research community.

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, today announced she will consult students, researchers, academics and others to discuss their views on how to adapt the Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) initiative for a “made-in-Canada” approach.

Participating in Athena SWAN is part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion in research. It is an internationally recognized initiative that celebrates higher education institutions that have implemented practices to advance equity, diversity and inclusion in the sciences.

As part of her consultations with stakeholders across the country this summer, the Minister will seek views on how best to implement, maximize and assess the impacts of the Athena SWAN initiative.

The Minister will travel to London and Edinburgh next week to learn about the United Kingdom’s experiences in developing and implementing equity measures to support the careers of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). She will meet with students, researchers, leaders and members of the international research community who are advocates for women in STEM.

The Government is in ongoing discussions with Advance Higher Education (AdvanceHE)—the U.K. organization that oversees the Athena SWAN Charter and manages the initiative—to conclude agreements to allow the Government to adapt the Charter to the Canadian context. 

Workshops will be launched in September in collaboration with AdvanceHE and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Feedback from these workshops and the consultations will help in designing a program based on the Athena SWAN initiative tailored to meet Canada’s needs.


“Our intent is to adapt Athena SWAN so that we have a truly ‘made-in-Canada’ approach that reflects Canada’s unique reality. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and to be valued equally in the worlds of science, technology, engineering and math. The Athena SWAN initiative is key to making this happen.”
– The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

Quick facts

  • Since its launch in 2005, the Athena SWAN initiative has been widely implemented in the U.K. higher education sector, where it is run by AdvanceHE.

  • Budget 2018 announced the Government of Canada’s plan to adopt the internationally recognized Athena SWAN initiative to establish best practices for advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in the sciences at Canada’s higher education institutions.

  • Budget 2018 also introduced other initiatives to further the Government’s inclusion goals, including collecting better data on under-represented groups to inform granting council programs; providing grants to higher education institutions to tackle challenges in addressing the under-representation and career advancement of these groups; and developing a strategic plan to identify new ways of doing research with Indigenous communities.


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Ann Marie Paquet
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Science

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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