Gender equity in action

Gender equity in action

An equitable and diverse workforce drives innovation

Our institute is aware of the challenges experienced by women in science. Although women have made up the majority of biology undergraduates for decades, progress towards parity at senior levels has been slow.

While there has been some increase in numbers over time, about 30 per cent of our lab heads and less than 14 per cent of our division heads are women, but around half of all institute postdoctoral fellows are women. A significant focus of the institute’s gender equity activities is therefore on addressing the barriers to career advancement for women scientists.

Our institute, our sector, our community

Institute staff and students are part of a number of programs to achieve gender equity across our institute, our sector and our community. These initiatives complement each other in several areas such as measurement and accountability, flexibility in the workplace and raising the profile of women in science.

 

Gender equity programs diagram

 

Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) Pilot in Australia

National – Science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM)
  • National accreditation for STEMM institutions, part of an international initiative
  • Recognises institutions demonstrating a competitive edge in attracting the best scientists
  • Addresses improvement of gender equity policies and practices
  • Uses an evidence based approach to identify key gender equity issues and develop an action plan to tackle the problem areas
  • Gives specific focus to how gender intersects with minority characteristics such as cultural background and gender identity
  • Improves gender equity and bolsters women in leadership roles

The Athena SWAN charter evolved from work between the Athena Project and the Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN) in the UK. The charter and accreditation aim to advance the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). Australia’s Athena SWAN pilot is a two-year program that has been established by the Science in Australian Gender Equity (SAGE) program, an initiative of the Australian Academy of Science.

Members of the internal Athena SWAN self-assessment team will collect and analyse data and other evidence to understand gender equity across a range of indicators using a number of mechanisms including workshops, surveys, interviews, policy review and analysis, and database interrogation. This information will be used to develop an action plan to address the issues and gaps found.

 

Male Champions of Change Victoria

State – all industries
  • State-based, high profile coalition across multiple industries, part of a national initiative
  • Influential male corporate, government and community leaders leading on gender equity through action and advocacy
  • Collaborations and resource development to enact high impact change
  • Five areas of change:
    • Measurement and accountability
    • Personal leadership
    • Everyday sexism
    • Flexible work
    • Prevention of violence against women

Institute director Professor Doug Hilton is our representative on the Victorian Male Champions of Change. The institute, along with other member organisations, is producing an action plan to implement the five areas of change.

 

Women in Science Parkville Precinct (WiSPP)

Local – medical research
  • Local initiative involving five medical research institutes
  • Promotes an environment that enables more women in science to lead and excel
  • Challenges the status quo, aims to increase the profile of women in key roles
  • A platform for change and empowerment

Dr Justin Boddey, Kathy Potts and Dr Joanne Hildebrand represent the institute at WiSPP meetings. Along with regular seminars and discussion forums promoting women in science, the initiative is collating data across the five participating institutes to measure the impact of gender equity activities.

Doug Hilton in his office

Professor Doug Hilton has been named as one of 20 inaugural ‘Male Champions of Change’ by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, for his work to improve the representation of women at senior levels of medical research.