SAGE Pilot strives for gender equity in STEMM

May 16 / 181

Women comprise the majority of Level A and B lecturers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) at the University of Melbourne, but at Level E only 20 per cent are women, a recent forum of staff committed to increasing the representation of women has been told.

This compares unfavourably with lecturers at Level E in Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences (HASS), where 42 per cent are women.

These confronting statistics were presented by Professor Marilys Guillemin at the gathering – 'Women in STEMM: the Start of the Conversation' – which addressed the enduring questions: What can be done to change the low representation of females in senior academic positions in STEMM, and how do we promote a career in STEMM to women?

Keynote speaker was Professor Nalini Joshi, Founding Co-Chair of Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) & Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellow.

Professor Guillemin is Director of the Centre for Health and Society in the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, and is also Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. She is leading the University’s involvement in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot program of Athena SWAN in Australia.

Athena SWAN is a charter initiative that began in the United Kingdom with a mission to progress the participation of women involved in science, technology, engineering, maths, and medicine in universities.

Professor Guillemin says the charter is based on ten core principles, the first of which acknowledges that without welcoming the talents of all people, academic knowledge will not progress to its full potential.

Athena SWAN has an international reputation for creating gender inclusive workplaces, with accredited institutions demonstrating a competitive edge in attracting the best scientists,” she says.

“The SAGE initiative forms one part of the University’s efforts to drive diversity and inclusion. It is focused on addressing the disproportionate representation of women in academic and leadership roles. This key priority has been identified in the University’s People Strategy 2015–2020. Other University initiatives include participation in the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s Male Champions of Change Program, and Universities Australia’s ‘Respect. Now. Always’ campaign.”

Athena SWAN accreditation will be subject to rigorous peer review from early 2018, and qualifying institutions will receive Athena SWAN awards in 2018. Accreditations will be valid for four years.

Accredited institutions agree to uphold the principles of the Charter, including advancing gender equality in academia, addressing the loss of women across the career pipeline, tackling gender pay gaps, removing obstacles faced by women and making sustainable structural and cultural changes to advance gender equality. 

Find out more here.

Story by Thomas Feng.

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