The University joins pilot for women in STEMM

September 15 / 167


The University has joined a pilot program to improve the promotion and retention of women and gender minorities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).


The Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot – a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering – will be the first Australian trial of the successful UK Athena SWAN gender equity accreditation program. Thirty-one other organisations will participate in the pilot, including universities, medical research institutes and the CSIRO.

The program rates the gender equity policies and practices of participating organisations with a gold, silver or bronze award and helps them to develop ways to promote and retain women and gender minorities in their organisations. The Athena SWAN Charter began a decade ago with just ten UK universities.  It has grown to include nearly every STEMM education and research institution in the UK.

Executive Director of Human Resources and OHS Sally Eastoe said: “The University has for many years focussed on careers for women, but recognises that there is much work to be done. We are delighted to be part of the pilot as this will bring added focus to a complex issue.”

“The University takes gender diversity seriously and is particularly interested in the diversity of leaders in STEMM,” Dr Eastoe said.

“We know that roughly equal numbers of men and women study STEMM at the start of their careers.  However men dominate the higher ranks of most STEMM disciplines.

“This is a major problem and the loss of talented individuals has many causes,” she said.

Provost Margaret Sheil said: “we know that the problem is not just the pipeline and that the outcomes at the University whereby women make up more than half STEMM PhD graduates and early career researchers but represent just over 20 per cent of our senior academics will not just be addressed by the passage of time. So it is important we do more than just wait.”

SAGE pilot lead at the University, Marilys Guillemin said that the program was comprehensive.

“Members of the Athena SWAN Charter agree to uphold ten principles of gender equity, including commitment to addressing the loss of women across the career pipeline; tackling the gender pay gap; and addressing the negative consequences of short-term contracts,” Professor Guillemin said.

“We will also undertake comprehensive data collection, analysis and evaluation of our gender policies, programs and outcomes at every level. The pilot process will take over two years including preparation and training, as well as collating evidence for the Award application,” she said.

“I will be liaising with staff and faculties across the University – Engineering; Science; Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences; and Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences.” 

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Story by Sophie Marcard

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