Kicking goals in sciences gender equity and diversity


The University of Adelaide has been recognised for its work to improve gender equity and diversity with the award of an Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award, the highest level of this award available in Australia.

Part of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative, the internationally recognised award recognises an institution’s commitment to advancing the careers of women, trans and gender diverse individuals in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) disciplines in higher education and research.

The Award was announced last night at a special SAGE event at the Adelaide Town Hall.

“The University of Adelaide has a long and proud history of diversity and inclusion. In 1881, Adelaide was the first university in Australia – and among the first anywhere in the world – to admit women to all degree programs, including science,” says University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Rathjen.

“We are now seeing this original spirit of inclusion and diversity undergoing a revival, partly through the SAGE process, through a range of actions already in place, and through our University’s new strategic direction outlined in our strategic plan, Future Making.

“We are committed to pursuing an agenda of equity and access, including gender balance within our academy and increased recruitment of Indigenous staff, and I am delighted that our efforts have been recognised with this important award.

“Participation in the SAGE program helps us to focus our attention on the importance of a gender-balanced, diverse workforce.”Professor Peter Rathjen, Vice-Chancellor and President

In 2015, the University of Adelaide established its first gender equity strategy: the Dornwell Framework, named for Edith Dornwell, our first female graduate and first science graduate in 1885. The Dornwell Framework was relaunched last year for 2020-2022, bringing the strategy in line with the Future Making strategic plan. Last year the University also launched its first Reconciliation Action Plan, Yangadlitya.

Other actions to date include: a highly successful Women in STEM Careers program; women-only recruitment programs in science and engineering; improved adoption and promotion of flexible work practices; and women’s leadership development programs.

“One of our strategic goals at the University of Adelaide is to be a magnet for talent, to attract the best staff from around the world. That means creating an environment where all of our staff feel valued, and where they’re able to perform at their best – an environment of excellence, of inclusion, and of diversity,” says Professor Eileen Scott, Chair of the University’s SAGE Athena SWAN Institutional Self-Assessment Team.

“In adopting the principles of the SAGE program, our University has committed to better understanding how we’re performing, and the barriers that need to be addressed.”

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, providing a framework in which to plan and undertake concrete work to create structural and cultural change for gender equality. It addresses system and structural barriers, as well as culture that hinders participation and advancement of women and minority groups in organisations – making it an effective enabling mechanism for transformational change.

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