SAGE recognises progress towards gender equality in science

05 December 2018
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SAGE Bronze Award

The Institute’s commitments to addressing gender inequality, supporting diversity and creating an inclusive workplace culture have been recognised with a prestigious Athena SWAN Bronze Award from Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE).

The Institute was one of only 15 higher education and research institutions in Australia to receive the award at a ceremony conferred by
Ms Nicolle Flint MP at Parliament House in Canberra.

Important steps towards equality

Institute director Professor Doug Hilton said the award reflected the Institute’s longstanding commitment to improving the participation, retention and success of women in science

“For more than a decade we have been taking important steps to create an Institute in which women can flourish and gender equity is an engrained part of our values,” he said.

Since 2009, there has been a steady increase in the number of women in the Institute’s senior scientific positions. The Institute has led the way with policies for family friendly meeting times; equal representation of women and men presenting at Institute symposia; supporting trans and gender diverse people in the Institute; our workplace response to domestic and family violence; and parental leave.

Professor Hilton said initiatives such as the provision of technical support for women to continue their research while on parental leave directly addressed barriers faced by women in science.

“Another milestone especially dear to my heart was the opening of our on-site Professor Lynn Corcoran Early Learning Centre, the first of its kind for a medical research institute in Australia,” he said.

SAGE gala dinner

(L-R) Elizabeth McMahon, Isabelle Lucet, Sam Ludolf, Louise
Johansson, Louise Naughton, Catia Pierotti and Roberto Bonelli at
the SAGE Bronze Awards Gala Dinner in Canberra.

A holistic and measurable approach

Institute deputy director Ms Samantha Ludolf, who has helped lead the Institute’s work as a member of SAGE, said the progress thus far would not have been possible without the passion of staff and students, vision of the Institute’s Gender Equity Committee and resolve of the SAGE Self-Assessment Team (SAT).

“I am proud of the work carried out by our SAT in the planning, actioning and assessing of our gender equity initiatives and activities. This team, made up of staff and students from across the institute, have done an amazing job to drive forward our gender equality strategy.

“The SAGE Athena SWAN program has provided us with a fantastic framework within which to make measurable improvements to our policy, procedures and programs at the Institute."

“The Institute’s first Gender Action Plan provides a roadmap to address the major barriers to achieving the cultural and structural change that underpins gender equality. We are committed to being accountable and transparent in this work and it’s been really exciting to see this inspiring and empowering our staff and students,” Ms Ludolf said.

Long-term, sustainable improvements

Professor Hilton said the award was part of a long-term commitment at the Institute and that there was still much more to be done.

“We are continuing to invest in our people and our organisation. We are working towards dismantling the barriers resulting from the accumulative disadvantage faced by minority women, as well as focussing on role modelling and celebrating these women’s achievements."

"We also need to break down outdated stereotypes related to men and caring to really shift the dial on gender equality.” he said.

Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering President Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE congratulated all members who received an Athena SWAN Bronze Award.

“As part of Australia’s first Athena SWAN cohort, these organisations have shown true leadership. Collectively, they have taken on the Athena SWAN Charter which makes them accountable for improving gender equity, and diversity and inclusion within their workplaces. They are true pioneers in this space and ultimately they are leading the way for all Australian workplaces and employers to follow in their footsteps,” Professor Bradlow said.

About Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE)

The Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative was established to pilot the UK’s Athena SWAN Charter in Australia. Launched in 2015, SAGE is a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

Building on the success of the UK Athena Swan Charter, SAGE is adapting its accreditation framework for use in Australia in the STEMM Higher Education and Research sector.

Athena SWAN is a successful enabling mechanism for gender equity. It addresses system and structural barriers, as well as culture, that hinder participation and advancement of women and minority groups in organisations – making it an effective enabling mechanism for transformational change.

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E: communityrelations@wehi.edu.au

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