In summary

  • Swinburne has endorsed a joint statement to preserve gender equity as a higher education priority during COVID-19
  • The statement acknowledges specific challenges and opportunities for students and staff across the sector and sets out common actions 
  • The university commits to mitigating the gendered impacts of COVID-19 through a range of equity programs

Swinburne has bolstered its commitment to gender equity in higher education by endorsing a joint sector position statement.

The Preserving gender equity as a higher education priority during and after COVID-19 joint statement acknowledges the gendered impacts of the pandemic and establishes a set of mitigation actions.

While the pandemic has created impacts for all, re-shaping our society and institutions, research shows women are facing deep social and economic impacts from the pandemic, potentially undoing decades of progress towards gender equality and presenting an increased risk of gendered violence.

In signing the joint statement, Swinburne Vice President People, Planning and Culture Marcia Gough said the university pledged to strengthen its commitment to equity and inclusion.

“Staying the course to improve gender equity in the sector is critical,” says Ms Gough.

“The joint statement recognises the challenges and opportunities for our students and staff across the higher education sector created by the COVID-19 situation.

“We must continue to measure the impacts and efficacy of programs against the broader impacts for women and ensure equitable leadership representation in our pandemic response.

“Swinburne’s gender equity work is well established through our Science in Gender Equity (SAGE) action plan. Our COVID-19 Taskforce comprises equal numbers of men and women, and our academic promotion and Vice-Chancellor’s Women in STEM Research Fellow programs have successfully encouraged more women into leadership roles.

“While the COVID-19 situation refocuses our work, equity and inclusion is a priority area that is not slowing down.”

Immediate and ongoing action

Through the statement, Swinburne commits to:

·        equal representation of women in COVID-19 response planning and decision-making;

·        monitoring and reporting on gender equity impacts and working with the sector to address emerging issues;

·        continuing participation in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative;

·        maintaining diversity and equity programs and indicators; and

·        preserving gender equity progress including support for those studying and working in STEMM.

Swinburne Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic Innovation and Change Professor Sarah Maddison led the university’s involvement in the SAGE initiative – now a four-year gender equity action plan.

“It is vital that we don’t take our foot off the accelerator in our journey towards gender equity during this critical time,” says Professor Maddison.

”There is already a lot of literature suggesting a dramatic decline the number of research publications lead by female first authors, which can have a long term impact on women’s academic career trajectories and promotions.”

Swinburne continues to closely report and monitor gender equity data, including leadership targets and our gender pay gap. The COVID-19 Taskforce overseeing Swinburne’s pandemic recovery response has equal representation of men and women.

The university continues to support existing gender equity programs including the Swinburne Women’s Academic Network (SWAN) and the SAGE action plan, which has established targets and measures to provide resources and working conditions that support greater work-life balance and career progression. This includes generous parental leave for all genders, flexible working options, and support for victims of domestic violence.

Swinburne also supports The Women in STEM Decadal Plan and is a signatory to the Athena SWAN Charter.

Read more on Swinburne’s gender equity work  or contact us to get involved in SAGE at Swinburne.

Committing to gender equity 

Preserving Gender Equity as a Higher Education Priority During and After COVID-19 is a joint sector position statement prepared by a new advisory group including representatives from a range of Australian universities. 

The commitments include: 

  1. Actively seek equal representation of women in COVID-19 response planning and decision-making as per the recommendations of the United Nations. 
  2. Formally monitor and report on gender equity impacts of COVID-19 related decision making (including compounding intersectional factors) within our own institutions and collaborate with other universities and sector partners to address emerging issues. 
  3. Continue our participation in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Athena SWAN initiative. 
  4. Maintain gender equity and diversity programs and Key Performance Indicators for gender equity and diversity where they currently exist. 
  5. Preserve the gender equity progress which has been made to date and into which has been invested significant time, effort and resourcing over many years, by maintaining: 
  • women’s representation at senior academic levels D and E 
  • women’s representation at senior professional staff levels 10+ 
  • support for the progression of women as students, higher degree researchers, and early-mid career researchers 
  • support for gender equity for those studying and working in non-traditional disciplines such as Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine. 

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