Committing to gender equity in pandemic

La Trobe is proud to commit to gender equity during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

CAPTION: Dr Sianan Healy, Dr Kerry Fanson and Dr Jillian Garvey (pictured above L-R) were named Tracey Banivanua Mar Fellows in March.

Women are facing deep social and economic effects from the pandemic and research shows that the impact on women stands to undo decades of progress towards gender equality and poses an amplified risk of gendered violence.

To ensure higher education emerges from COVID-19 without irretrievable loss of momentum in gender equity, a group of nation-wide equity practitioners have come together to create a Joint Sector Position Statement inviting Australian universities and Higher Education sector partners to acknowledge the gendered effects of COVID-19 and commit to five common actions.

La Trobe is proud to have signed the Statement and was one of the first universities to do so.

The Statement recognises that the COVID-19 crisis poses specific challenges for gender equity across the higher education sector, where women are under-represented in leadership positions (particularly in STEMM disciplines) and over-represented in precarious employment.

This is exacerbated by the sector-wide gender pay gap and the fact that women perform the greater share of unpaid care work in the home. However, our sector is also uniquely placed to use our research expertise and established equity practice to bring a deeper understanding of this pandemic and how inequities can be reduced during the crisis and recovery stages.

The Statement invites universities and the Higher Education sector to ensure women’s equal representation in all COVID-19 response planning and decision-making and to apply a gender lens to short, medium and long-term workforce responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that we collectively build on the important progress already achieved.

Our high performance in this area was recently recognised internationally by the Times Higher Education Impact rankings where we ranked number one in the world for gender equality.

These rankings assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The Gender Equality goal measures a university’s research on the study of gender, their policies on gender equality and their commitment to recruiting and promoting women.

Coming first in the world for gender equality reflects a long-term commitment that will continue during and after the pandemic.

We are already working to mitigate the gendered impacts of COVID-19 by continuing to closely report and monitor gender equity data via our SAGE Implementation Group. Any data relating to COVID-19 for instance, uptake of voluntary options, is being viewed through a gender equity lens. Our Senior Executive Team supervising our COVID-19 recovery has equal representation of men and women.

We are continuing with our existing gender equity programs (the Women’s Academic Promotions Support Program, Tracey Banivanua Mar Fellowships and the Panel Pledge). We are committed to our SAGE Athena SWAN Action Plan and our goal of increasing the percentage of women in senior leadership positions to 50 per cent by 2022.

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