The University of Newcastle, Australia

UON continues to lead in gender equity

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

For the fourth consecutive year, UON has upheld its reputation and track record for creating a rewarding and supportive workplace for staff, receiving the 2018 Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation by the Workplace for Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). The citation was awarded to only 120 organisations nationwide.

UON receives Employer of Choice for Gender Equity citation

Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen welcomed the recognition of UON’s commitment and ongoing effort.

“To be recognised as one of the country’s leaders in workplace gender equity year on year is an achievement of which we should all feel very proud,” Professor McMillen said.

“It is testament not only to our values but also to the efforts of many across UON who work to change the status quo for a better future.”

The Vice-Chancellor said that the award was particularly timely in the context of the broader national and international conversation taking place about gender equality in the workplace and in society at large.

“With movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp driving real – and much-needed - change in society’s expectations of appropriate workplace behaviour, it is more critical than ever to maintain our shared vision for an equitable future,” Professor McMillen said.

“Gender equality in the workplace extends well beyond traditional considerations about pay and seniority, and we know that we have significantly more to do to ensure that gender equality is embedded within UON.”

In this spirit, the University is hosting an open-to-the-public panel discussion, for International Women’s Day – an annual event that is gaining global momentum – around the 2018 theme of Press for Progress.  This will be an opportunity for educators and industry leaders to engage around the issue of the underrepresentation of women in STEMM.

On the Central Coast we are holding a public streaming of the popular thoughts and ideas festival All about Women, live from the Sydney Opera House.

An institution-wide effort

In late 2015, UON joined the first round of Australian institutions participating in the SAGE Athena SWAN pilot. After two years of gender related data collection and analysis, and the roll out of initiatives to support early and mid-career female researchers, UON is now preparing its report and four year action plan for submission in March.

“This has been a very significant undertaking led by Professor Deb Hodgson, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) and a Self-Assessment Team comprising colleagues from across Faculties and Divisions.

“Their detailed work, with input from across the institution, has provided rich insight to support our Bronze Accreditation application,” Professor McMillen said.

Based on the findings of the SAGE pilot a number of key initiatives are already underway, with more planned.

In 2017, the Research Advantage program awarded 13 Women in Research Fellowships, providing a strategic pathway to facilitate an increased percentage of women in senior academic positions.  We also ran a successful “Accelerate” pilot to support Level D academic women to apply for promotion within one to three years.

Unconscious bias training, completed by members of the Executive Committee in 2017, will be delivered to Heads of Schools and Senior Managers in 2018 and the Faculty of Science will continue to conduct face-to-face interviews with academic women who chose to leave UON, to gain a deeper understanding of the drivers and obstacles, such that they can be addressed.

In an exciting first for UON, the University will make three internal appointments of Women in Science Chairs, to provide advocacy and leadership in alignment with the principles of the Athena SWAN charter.

“As an institution that is defined by a commitment to equity and social justice, I know the SAGE Pilot Self-Assessment team and our Faculty Gender Equity Committees will continue to receive full support for ongoing initiatives and those planned,” the Vice-Chancellor said.

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