In summary

  • To mark International Women’s Day for 2023, Swinburne has hosted an interactive forum featuring inspirational females working here at Swinburne.

  • Medical Technology Victoria Director, Professor Rachael McDonald, shares the importance of empowerment, and its role in her career so far.

  •  Swinburne’s Gender Equity Action Plan commits the university to supporting and engaging staff around gender equity. 

This International Women’s Day, Swinburne University of Technology has embraced empowerment. We celebrated women at a panel event with a range of successful women with diverse careers, understanding what drives them, and how we can all help boost women’s ability to feel empowered. 

The Swinburne International Women’s Day 2023 Forum was led by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education, Experience and Employability) Professor Sarah Maddison, highlighting the changemakers and innovators we have right here at Swinburne. 

The panel comprised of Medical Technology Victoria (MedTech Vic) Director, Professor Rachael McDonald; Procurement, Sustainability & Property Services Director, Rhiannon Jones; and Masters student at the Swinburne Aerostructures Innovation Research Hub (AIRHub) Maheshi Gunaratne. 

Professor McDonald says the theme of ‘empowered’ resonates with her.  

“It’s about having the knowledge, confidence, means, or ability to do things or make decisions for oneself,” she says. 

“I want to empower my students in teaching and supervision to become the best that they can be; even when situations or knowledge can be challenging. I have also had people mentor and empower me in ways that I would never have predicted, from places and in situations I would not have expected.” 

Professor McDonald says a key takeaway from Swinburne’s forum is that when one door closes, another one opens. 

“Try to leave a workplace or a situation in a better place than when you joined, and no effort is wasted. I feel we have the responsibility to empower and build others.” 

Actioning equality 

Professor McDonald says she is passionate about equity and creating a society in which people can participate in the activities that they want and need to do without barriers or discrimination. 

“I started my career as a health professional naively thinking that I would make people’s lives better by my interventions. This was very quickly knocked on the head by the people I worked with and I came to understand that my role was to create services, situations and supports that would enable people to have the confidence, means or ability to do the things that were challenging for them.” 

Swinburne’s Gender Equity Action Plan commits the university to supporting and engaging staff around gender equity. This is complemented by our SAGE Action Plan, which works to increase our science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) workforce and student base, ensuring we have a talent pipeline that is fit for the future, diverse and gender balanced. 

Alongside the International Women’s Day Forum was a pop-up market hosted by not-for-profit social enterprise SisterWorks, where attendees had the opportunity to purchase a range of quality goods.  

All profits from the market will help SisterWorks support women from refugee, asylum seeker and migrant backgrounds to improve their confidence, mental wellbeing, sense of belonging and economic outlook. 

Learn more about Swinburne’s commitment to creating a culture of equity and diversity. 

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