A commitment to gender equality

08 March 2016
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Professor Doug Hilton
Professor Doug Hilton, Institute Director

A message from our director, Professor Doug Hilton:


On this International Women’s Day we celebrate the social, scientific, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.

It is also a time to reflect on the challenges that lie ahead in our sector:

  • Women are under-represented in leadership positions
  • A significant gender pay gap still exists
  • Retirement savings of women are approximately half that of men
  • Women are at significant risk of violence at the hands of a current or former partner

Women are representative of more than half PhD graduates and early career researchers in Australia. However, in senior academic roles, women make up just 17%, this is a waste of time, talent and expertise.

We need to retain our best scientists and innovators to ensure Australia stays competitive in all research fields.


This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #PledgeForParity.

As a member of the Victorian Male Champions of Change group, I am committed to gender equality, and in particular increasing the representation of women in leadership and in non-traditional careers.

In 2016 we have pledged to personally lead initiatives to drive measurement and accountability for gender balance across our organisations, create greater workplace flexibility, address everyday sexism and support the prevention of violence against women in our community.

Gender equality affects us all

Gender equality is firmly on the national agenda, with high profile appointments such as the Dr Anne Kelso taking up the role of CEO of the National Health and Medical Research Council in 2015.

Here at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, I am aware of the challenges experienced by women seeking to achieve a senior role in their field. We have instigated and continue to develop a number of initiatives to enhance our leadership representation, such as:

  • Improved gender balance through strengthened recruitment processes
  • Working closely with gender equity initiatives such as the Male Champions of Change and SAGE programs
  • Family friendly meeting times and flexible working arrangements
  • Twelve-weeks paid maternity leave
  • Lactation room and emergency care family room
  • Home based work facilitated by information technology support
  • Women in science lectures, lunches and mentoring opportunities
  • Financial support for women with children in care

These initiatives serve to recognise and support our women researchers and staff.

It’s an important step forward towards gender equality and an understanding that this is not just a women’s problem: gender equality affects us all.

To that end, I hope everyone will celebrate International Women’s Day.

Professor Doug Hilton


Celebrating International Women’s Day with #WEHIwomen, find out more about our female leaders.

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