Science in Australia Gender Equity at Swinburne

Swinburne is enhancing gender equity and diversity by participating in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Pilot Program.

Currently, women comprise more than half of science PhD graduates and early career researchers in Australia, but only 17 per cent of senior academics in Australian universities and research institutes.

Science, technology and engineering will shape the future of our world and we’re committed to advancing the careers of women in these fields.

What is SAGE?

SAGE is a national program that promotes gender equity and diversity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).

The initiative was established to pilot the UK’s Athena SWAN Charter in Australia. Launched in 2015, SAGE is a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

Building on the success of the UK Athena Swan Charter, SAGE is adapting its accreditation framework for use in Australia in the STEMM higher education and research sector.

Athena SWAN is a mechanism for gender equity, providing a framework in which to plan and undertake concrete work to create structural and cultural change for gender equity. It addresses system and structural barriers, as well as culture, that hinder participation and advancement of women and minority groups in organisations – making it an effective enabling mechanism for transformational change.

Swinburne is one of more than 40 Australian institutions taking part in the two-year pilot program of the successful UK Athena SWAN accreditation program. There are 10 principles of the Athena SWAN charter to which we’ve committed. 


Benefits of gender equity and diversity

Diversity enhances innovation by offering different perspectives, which leads to more innovative solutions, helping us push the frontiers of discovery.

By addressing workplace barriers to advancing gender equity, both men and women across all disciplines benefit. This will help us retain our best scientists and innovators and ensure Australia’s research and development excellence is maintained.

Organisations using the Athena SWAN framework in the UK have improved gender diversity and bolstered representation of women in leadership in STEMM. 

Scientists in these organisations have experienced greater career satisfaction and fairness in workload allocation, and increased opportunities for training and development. This has led to transformations in workplace culture.

Infographic showing the percentage of women in STEMM at Swinburne University
Figure: Representation of academic positions held by women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) disciplines at Swinburne.

What we're doing

As a SAGE member, we are working to reduce gender bias to create a more inclusive culture that values all staff. We’ve started a number of initiatives that will form part of our application for a Bronze Institutional award, which we submitted in March 2018. We were successful in obtaining a Bronze award in December 2018. This is the highest award available at present in Australia.

So far, throughout the self-reflective program process we have:

  • collected and analysed staff and student data, and reflected on our current policies and practices
  • engaged with staff and students to identify gaps and opportunities to improve gender equity in STEMM
  • developed and started work towards implementing an action plan to improve our practices, and promote, develop and retain women in STEMM disciplines.

How you can get involved

We have now moved into the action implementation phase of the project. Students or staff wanting to get involved in the project can contact us here to find out more!

Become a change agent to help us implement the SAGE action plan. The Swinburne forum on the SAGE project findings, actions and next steps attracted a wide range of volunteers but we need more. We invite all members of the Swinburne community to get involved and help us create a gender equitable, diverse and inclusive organisation. Please come along to future events and actively support equity at Swinburne in all the ways outlined in our SAGE action plan.

Contact us to find out how you can get involved in SAGE at Swinburne

Contact us

Contact us to find out how you can get involved in SAGE at Swinburne.