All applications for SAGE accreditation, including Athena Swan Awards and Cygnet Awards, are assessed through an independent expert peer review process.

The robustness and credibility of our peer review process is one of the reasons that SAGE Athena Swan accreditation is so highly respected worldwide.

Where do SAGE reviewers come from?

SAGE selects reviewers from a pool of expert practitioners, academics and researchers from across the Australian tertiary education and research sector.

The pool consists of people with diverse lived experiences and expertise in equity, diversity and inclusion; governance; peer review and accreditation; impact assessment; organisational change; and specific barriers to attraction, retention and progression.

Depending on the expertise required, we may also recruit reviewers from outside the Australian tertiary education and research sector.

What training do reviewers get?

All reviewers undergo compulsory training prior to participating in an application review round. The training equips reviewers with the skills and knowledge they need to review applications in a fair and consistent manner.

The training covers topics such as:

  • the assessment process, including pre-review, meeting and post-review processes
  • the assessment framework, including criteria, ratings, recommendations and feedback
  • the roles and responsibilities of reviewers and Chairs
  • managing biases and conflicts
  • confidentiality

What happens during the review process?

Athena Swan Award applications will be assessed by a group of reviewers assembled by SAGE. Each reviewer will first independently assess the application against the award criteria. If required, the full group of reviewers will meet at an assessment meeting, where they will discuss whether the application fulfils the criteria. The Chair will moderate the discussion and help the group reach a consensus recommendation as to whether the institution should receive an award.

Cygnet Award applications, on the other hand, are first assessed by a SAGE in-house reviewer. If the in-house reviewer finds that the application satisfies the award criteria, they will send the assessment results to an independent reviewer (drawn from the SAGE reviewer pool) for endorsement. The independent reviewer checks to make sure that the in-house assessment is justified.

Who should become a reviewer?

We are looking for people who have expertise in one or more of the following criteria:

  • gender equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and the specific barriers to attraction, retention or progression of staff or students
  • organisational change
  • institutional and/or professional accreditation
  • peer review
  • outcome and impact assessment
  • quantitative and qualitative data analytics
  • institutional governance in the tertiary education and research sector

Provided they meet at least one of the above criteria, we welcome expressions of interest from:

  • Members of tertiary education institutions, medical research institutes and publicly funded research agencies
  • Colleagues of any staff classification, including professional, academic, research and technical staff
  • Staff members at any level, including junior and early-career staff
  • Higher degree by research students

To ensure a diversity of lived experiences within our pool, we strongly encourage expressions of interest from:

  • men
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people
  • people who are LGBTQIA+, including trans and gender diverse people
  • people with disability
  • people from all cultural backgrounds

What are the benefits of becoming a reviewer?

As a reviewer or chair, your contributions assure the integrity, rigour and credibility of the SAGE review and assessment process. You’ll also get to:

  • Learn about interesting gender equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives in the sector
  • Share your knowledge and expertise with peers
  • Learn more about what makes a good SAGE award application
  • Gain peer review experience
  • Build your professional network

If you belong to a privileged group, your participation means that the burden of gender equity, diversity and inclusion work does not fall solely on members of marginalised groups.

How do I become a reviewer?

You can submit an expression of interest at any time by completing the form below. The form will ask you to indicate your:

  • specific area(s) of expertise
  • relevant personal experience(s), including participation in institutional Athena Swan processes
  • willingness to act as a Chair, if applicable
  • conflicts of interest with SAGE subscriber institutions, if any

You will also be asked to indicate any periods when you know you will be unavailable to review applications.

Maintaining the rigour of the assessment process is our top priority. All EOIs will be assessed against the criteria prior to inclusion in the pool of reviewers. Regardless of their professional and personal background, prospective reviewers must demonstrate sufficient depth and breadth of experience against one or more criteria in their expression of interest to be accepted into the reviewer pool.

We’ll contact you within 2 weeks if you are successful.

Download EOI form [DOCX 69 kB]

What am I committing to as a reviewer?

Frequency and timing of review

SAGE endeavours to build a large pool with multiple reviewers for each area of expertise to avoid overburdening individual reviewers.

When inviting reviewers to review applications, SAGE will aim to provide at least 4 weeks’ notice. Reviewers can decline to participate if the timing does not suit or there are conflicts of interest.

Institutions can only submit Athena Swan Award applications on 31 March and 30 September each year. Athena Swan Award reviewers will usually be asked to review 3 to 5 applications in one round. Each Athena Swan Award application requires approximately 5 hours to review, including the assessment meeting, making a total commitment of approximately 15–20 hours in an assessment round.

There are three Cygnet Award submission rounds each year on 28 February, 30 June and 31 October. Organisations may submit earlier, but their application will not be assessed before those dates. Each reviewer will assess up to six Cygnet applications a year. Each Cygnet application requires approximately 2 hours to review, but may take up to 6 hours if revisions are required.

Reviewers can withdraw from the pool or update their details at any time by contacting the SAGE team.

Training sessions

When you are first accepted as a reviewer, you will undergo reviewer training, which takes around 5 hours, plus an additional 1-hour session for Chairs. The training is a combination of self-paced online modules and live workshops/meetings, which take place online.

Existing reviewers undergo regular refresher training.

Workload recognition

All reviewers are participating on a voluntary basis. SAGE does not determine workload allocation for reviewers. However, we strongly encourage organisations to recognise and reward their members’ contributions to SAGE peer review as part of their workload allocation process, given the importance of this work in assuring the quality of gender equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives across the sector.

Can I help SAGE recruit more reviewers?

Yes! If you know someone who would make a great reviewer, please encourage them to submit an expression of interest.

Where can I learn more?

For a detailed description of the review process, assessment framework and reviewer responsibilities, please refer to the Assessment Guide for the relevant award.

These guides can be downloaded from the Application Forms and Guidance page, where you’ll also find the reviewer training booklet and videos.

Alternatively, you can contact us with an enquiry or to request a copy of these documents.

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