Pilot program to be ‘game changer’ for women in science

15 September 2015
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The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute will join more than half of Australian universities and science organisations in 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 (ATSE), will be the first Australian trial of the successful UK Athena SWAN gender equity accreditation program. The institute is one of 32 organisations, including universities, medical research institutes and the CSIRO, to participate in the pilot, which was launched today.

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 10 universities but has grown today to include as a member nearly every STEMM education and research institution in the UK.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute director Professor Doug Hilton said he was delighted to see the Australian Academy of Science and ATSE coming together to tackle the significant challenge posed by gender inequity in science. “Australia will benefit from the best people being supported to become leaders in the scientific sector, irrespective of their gender,” he said.

“I see an amazing number of talented women start careers in biological research, but too many of these women leave the research sector, for a variety of reasons. This loss of potential leaders is a tragedy, both in terms of the waste of talent it represents, as well as the loss of role models for the next generation of women who may aspire to become research leaders,” Professor Hilton said.

Since becoming director of the institute in 2009, Professor Hilton has overseen the introduction of new programs that aim to redress gender inequity.

“We have been one of many organisations implementing programs to improve gender balance,” Professor Hilton said. “I see the SAGE pilot as being an important initiative that brings together the many diverse organisations that are committed to gender equity. A sector-wide approach gives us the best chance to succeed, and consequently, the best chance for Australian researchers to make the important discoveries our community needs.”

Further information

Vanessa Solomon
Communications Adviser
P: +61 3 9345 2971
E: solomon@wehi.edu.au

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