Practical examples of demonstrating impact in an Athena SWAN application

24 July, 2019

Practical examples of demonstrating impact in an Athena SWAN application

Practical examples of demonstrating impact in an Athena SWAN application

Writing an Athena SWAN application is no small task so at the Babraham Institute we were pleased to be commended on ours, especially for how we demonstrated impact. In fact, Dr Cheryl Smythe, the chair of our equality4success team, was asked by AdvanceHE to give a talk and write a blog post about impact. Many of you have said you’ve found the advice helpful so here we’ve illustrated that list with examples taken from our application.

1. Grab their attention. Not only did we have a letter from our Director, but also the chair of the Board of Trustees. These highlighted the breadth of our work as well as our most exciting achievements and goals.

2. Make main messages easy to find. All of our action plan points were made obvious in separate boxes. Additionally, every section of our report ended with a ‘major impacts’ table.

3. Be explicit. The word ‘impact’ appears 49 times in our 210 page application.

4. Use different types of evidence. This section on promotion is supported with a table and a quote. Other parts of the application contain graphs, photos, screenshots, and word clouds.

5. Develop a circular narrative. This action point for training shows that we’ve analysed current data, identified a gender disparity, are taking action to address it, will continue to collect and monitor training uptake, and update our action plan with new initiatives based on new data.

6. Ask for the impact. As well as quotes from internal sources, we’ve asked external parties to comment on our work.

7. Make impact part of the process. In 2019 we’re already preparing for our 2022 application by collecting data annually and creating a database of images and feedback. We won’t end up using all of this but it gives us a wide range of examples to choose from and means we won’t need to be searching old emails trying to remember what we did four years ago.

8. End on an (impact) high. We used the supporting statement to emphasise the key messages and directly linked it to the evaluation criteria.

Fundamentally, demonstrating impact is not just important for getting an Athena SWAN award. It also allows us to assess what actions work and prove the need for further work in creating an inclusive and equitable scientific research culture. We’d love to hear from you how you are demonstrating impact and what initiatives you have at your organisation. Best of luck on your own Athena SWAN journey!