SAGE Athena SWAN in action

Athena SWAN is an evaluation and accreditation program that has been running for almost two decades in the UK. It has had tremendous success in enhancing gender equity and diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) disciplines.

The program is underpinned by a charter of principles of gender equity, diversity and inclusion for underrepresented groups.

In Australia, the program is being delivered by Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE). An initiative of the Australian Academy of Science with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

We joined SAGE in 2015, and formed part of the second cohort of institutions to apply for a Bronze Award which recognises an institution’s commitment to advancing the careers of women, trans and gender diverse individuals in STEMM disciplines in higher education and research. Achieving a Bronze Institutional Award requires an institution to demonstrate that it:

  • understands the current state of gender equity in its STEMM disciplines
  • understands the institutional structures, systems, and culture which contribute to gender inequity in its STEMM disciplines
  • has a four-year action plan to address gender inequity in its STEMM disciplines.

Why did we sign up?

Athena SWAN is the most comprehensive and systematic gender equality scheme in the higher education and research sector. Our longstanding commitment to access, inclusion and diversity, ensured that this scheme would help the University realize its commitment to achieving gender equality in all operations.

While the program is specifically about addressing gendered barriers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM). We are committed to apply the program to all disciplinary areas. As a University, we are proud of our commitment to positive change and our ambition is to be an exemplar in our sector.

What does our participation look like?

The application for bronze accreditation was a huge undertaking over three years. This involved many people across the University including over 50 members of our self-assessment team, the Project Managers, Dr Natasha Weir and Gina Pederick. The SAGE steering committee, comprised of senior leaders, ensured oversight of all gender equality activities and launched several initiatives. This included:

  • the Women’s Academic Promotions support program
  • the Tracey Banivanua Mar Fellowships
  • the Carers Travel Support fund.

Post accreditation, a SAGE Implementation Group has been established comprised of key senior leaders. This group, listed below, is responsible for the implementation of the University’s four year SAGE Athena SWAN Action Plan.

  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Industry Engagement (DVCRIE) (Project Sponsor and Chair)
  • Chief Financial and Operations Officer
  • Provost College of SHE
  • Provost  College of ASSC
  • Executive Director Research Office
  • Executive Director Human Resources
  • Director, Planning and Institutional Performance