The University of Newcastle, Australia

University of Newcastle signs Joint Statement on gender and COVID-19

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Without conscious action to address the gendered impacts of COVID-19, the pandemic threatens to derail the tertiary education sector’s decades-long effort to advance gender equity, a Joint Sector Position Statement warns.

Seven female academics talking around a table

The University of Newcastle has joined with other universities and sector partners to issue the ‘Preserving Gender Equity as a Higher Education Priority During and After COVID-19’ statement.

As a participating institution, we acknowledge the gendered effects of COVID-19 and commit to the following five actions:

  • Actively seek equal representation of women in COVID-19 response planning and decision-making as per the recommendations of the United Nations.
  • Formally monitor and report on gender equity impacts of COVID-19 related decision making (including compounding intersectional factors) within our own institutions and collaborate with other universities and sector partners to address emerging issues.
  • Continue our participation in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Athena SWAN initiative.
  • Maintain gender equity and diversity programs and Key Performance Indicators for gender equity and diversity where they currently exist.
  • Preserve the gender equity progress which has been made to date and into which has been invested significant time, effort and resourcing over many years, by maintaining:
    • women’s representation at senior academic levels D and E
    • women’s representation at senior professional staff levels 10+
    • support for the progression of women as students, higher degree researchers, and early-mid career researchers
    • support for gender equity for those studying and working in ‘non-traditional’ disciplines such as Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine.

Commenting on the Joint Statement, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Tina Crawford said the University is proud of its achievements in gender equity which is strengthened by our participation in the Joint Sector Statement.

“This is an opportunity for progressive leadership that is focussed on reinforcing our core values of equity and excellence as a fundamental component of being an inclusive and supportive workplace,” said Tina.

The statement also calls on the tertiary sector to use its strengths in research and established equity practise to bring about a deeper understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic and how inequities might be further reduced during the crisis and recovery stages.

While many higher education institutions across the country are already working to mitigate the gendered impacts of COVID-19 in their own contexts, the Joint Sector Position Statement is an important declaration of cross-sector cooperation and intent to ensure that the Australian higher education sector emerges from the pandemic with gender equity being central to recovery and sector regeneration.

A new Advisory Group of senior equity practitioners from a range of Australian universities prepared the Joint Sector Statement, echoing the call from United Nations Secretary General António Guterres for urgent and immediate action.


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