Pilot program will be a game changer for women in science

2 Oct 2015

The University of Queensland (UQ) has joined a national pilot program to improve the promotion and retention of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).

UQ is one of 32 organisations participating in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Initiative, which includes universities, medical research institutes and publicly funded science organisations.

Gender equity advocate and SAGE Forum Steering Committee member Professor Jenny Martin from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) said the program aims to redress the gender imbalance in STEMM fields.

“More than half of science PhD graduates and early career researchers are women, but women hold just 17 per cent of senior academic positions in Australian universities and research institutes,” she said.

“We need to act now to ensure gender equity and retain the significant talent, diversity of ideas and potential for innovation Australia’s women in science contribute to our field.

“SAGE will provide an equity benchmark for organisations, and I am pleased to see that 32 Australian universities and science institutions have committed to taking part and to improving gender equity.”

The SAGE Initiative is based on the successful Athena SWAN Charter that was established in the UK in 2005.

Staff in UK departments granted an Athena SWAN award, including both female and male staff, reported benefits including greater career satisfaction and improved opportunities for development and promotion.

Australian organisations will have two years to self-assess and develop an action plan to address gender equity and to qualify for an Athena SWAN Bronze award.

They will then be eligible for recognition of further improvements with Silver and Gold awards.

“Athena SWAN is so successful in the UK because it is evidence-based, peer-reviewed and leads to better outcomes for everyone,” Professor Martin said.
“Organisations must establish a representative self-assessment team, collect and analyse their own gendered data, find the pinch points and then fix them.

“The process makes gender equity a business priority.”

Enquiries: IMB Communications - 07 3346 2134, 0418 575 247, communications@imb.uq.edu.au