Institute celebrates International Women’s Day

13 March 2020
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Carly Findlay OAM delivering an International Women's Day address
Carly Findlay OAM delivering the Institute's 2020 International
Women’s Day address.
The Institute was proud to welcome award-winning writer, speaker and appearance activist Carly Findlay OAM to deliver our 2020 International Women’s Day address.

Carly writes on disability and appearance diversity issues, and this year received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her work as a disability advocate and activist. She lives with a rare, severe skin condition called ichtyosis, and identifies as a proud disabled woman.

Addressing the Institute’s staff and students, Carly spoke about the importance of inclusion, visibility and hearing the voices of people with a disability.

“We need to stop seeing disability as a deficit and something to be changed.”

“It’s really important to ensure there is a place for people with a disability at every table in the workplace, including leadership," she said.

Carly also spoke about the importance of positive visibility, as well as feeling able to be open as a person with a disability without fear or reservation. She pointed out that medical responses to disability should be holistic and not overlook mental health and well-being. 

Breaking down barriers to exclusion

Institute director Professor Doug Hilton – who is also a Male Champion of Change – said the Institute was deeply committed to addressing the additional barriers many women face, including women with a disability.

“We know that to achieve equality and respect for all women, gender inequality must be addressed together with other forms of discrimination and disadvantage such as disability discrimination or ableism.

“We are striving to strengthen and extend our gender equality work to be inclusive of women with disabilities, while also looking at how we can create a more inclusive workplace for all staff and students with a disability.

Carly Findlay OAM with members of the Institute's Gender Equity Committee
Carly Findlay OAM with members of the Institute's Gender
Equity Committee.

“This year, the Institute will be creating a space and support for the formation of an employee-led disability reference group.  We are currently in the process of gauging interest from staff and students in establishing this group,” Professor Hilton said.

Championing gender equity in science

Over the past decade, the Institute has made a significant commitment and investment in progressing gender equality.

Initiatives include more than AUD $2 million to assist women scientists with childcare upon their return to the workplace; as well as the opening of a three storey on-site childcare centre – The Professor Lynn Corcoran Early Learning Centre.

In 2018, the Institute was one of only 15 higher education and research institutions nationally to receive a SAGE Athena SWAN award for its work on gender equity.

Only just the beginning

Professor Hilton said the Institute’s important work towards overcoming inequality was set to continue.

“The Institute celebrates International Wowen’s Day to recognise how far we’ve come towards gender equality, but also, how far we have left to go."

“There is still much more work to be done as we continue to dismantle the barriers resulting from the accumulative disadvantage faced by minority women, as well as a focus on role modelling and celebrating these women’s achievements.

"We want to do everything we can to support these women and the next generation to succeed,” he said.

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