As International Women's Day on Wednesday 8 March puts the spotlight on women's advancement, Charles Sturt University (CSU) is going for bronze in its support for a national gender equity program.
Known as the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot, the initiative, coordinated by the Australian Academy of Science, aims to lift the number of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).
CSU is an inaugural member of SAGE, which draws its inspiration from the international Athena SWAN Charter adopted in the United Kingdom more than a decade ago to address the underrepresentation of women in science.
CSU is committed to the 10 principles of the Athena SWAN Charter which addresses gender equity in pay, position, opportunity and culture.
CSU academic Dr Denise Wood said, "During 2017, a submission will be prepared for an Athena SWAN Bronze Award in 2018.
The Award recognise a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff.
"Gender equity in university environments can make a real difference to the achievements of the university, and potentially to the future workplaces of their graduates and society at large."
The CSU team leading the SAGE program last year, many drawn from the University's Faculty of Science, gathered data and investigated equity across the institution.
At the end of January, the group attended a 'Going for Gold', a seminar in Canberra presented by Professor Tom Welton, Head of the Chemistry School at Imperial College in London.
Dr Wood said, "Professor Welton led changes in his School that enabled it to receive its first Athena SWAN Gold Award.
"His approach was founded on two simple concepts: equality of opportunity and action.
"His message spoke clearly how change is not a one stop event but rather an ongoing process that needs to drive action at all levels – leadership, academics, professional staff and students.
"This initiative is not about compliance, nor is it about affirmative action for women but rather it is about a commitment to cultural change that is inclusive and positive, an institutional awareness and acceptance of diversity, and an ongoing plan to listen to the voices of those who are within diverse groups."
Early career science researcher at CSU Dr Kristy Robson, said, "The key actions to support greater equity for women in science are opportunities, resources and mentors provided by the organisations.
"I think it's important for higher education institutions to provide opportunities such as Charles Sturt University's leadership for women program but also having resources available to assist women and/or mentor women in career progression is also important."
Read more about CSU's involvement in the SAGE initiative in CSU News here.
International Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women and in 2017 is asking people to take bold action to support gender parity.
Media contact: Ms Fiona Halloran, (02) 6933 2207
For interviews, contact CSU Media.
Photo: Women in science at CSU, Dr Kristy Robson, Associate Professor Janelle Wheat, Professor Linda Shields and Associate Professor Shokoofeh Shamsi.