In summary

  • Swinburne has achieved its first Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Athena Swan Cygnet Award
  • The SAGE Cygnet Award recognises notable improvements in women’s academic promotion application and success rates at Swinburne, with successes up by 37 per cent
  • The SAGE Cygnet Award uses the internationally recognised Athena Swan program framework for gender equity, diversity and inclusion.

Swinburne University of Technology has achieved its first Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Cygnet Award, recognising the university’s notable improvements in women’s academic promotion application and success rates.

The achievement affirms Swinburne’s commitment to improving the attraction, promotion and retention of women and gender diverse people in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM), enabled by its SAGE Action Plan 2022-25.

Swinburne is among 17 of Australia’s 42 SAGE participating institutions – including universities, medical research institutions and public funded research agencies – to receive a SAGE Cygnet Award.

The achievement follows Swinburne’s earlier SAGE Athena Swan Institutional Bronze Award in 2018, and reflects progress against priorities in the university’s original SAGE Action Plan 2019-21, as well as the current SAGE Action Plan 2022-25.

Professor Karen Hapgood, Swinburne’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and SAGE Athena Swan Lead and Gender Equity Champion, said achieving the Cygnet Award reaffirms Swinburne’s dedication to advancing gender equity in academic promotion.

“This SAGE Cygnet Award reflects our commitment to career progression by women, as championed by the Swinburne Women's Academic Network,” Professor Karen Hapgood says.

“The award demonstrates how we’re systematically removing barriers for academics to receive promotion at Swinburne, creating long-lasting changes that benefit researchers of all genders and career stages”.

Successful promotions for women increase by 37 per cent at Swinburne

Swinburne’s successful SAGE Cygnet Award submission was led by Swinburne Women’s Academic Network, which was established in 2015 to address the under-representation of women in senior academic and professional positions at Swinburne. The Network assists women at any stage of their academic career to develop their leadership capacity and achieve career progression.

Key findings of the submission include:

  • 73 per cent of academic women who participated in the SWAN promotions program achieved successful promotion outcomes
  • The average number of successful applications from women increased by 37 per cent (from 16.7 average number of successful applications for the period from 2009–2014, to 26.5 average number of successful applications for the period from 2015–2022)
  • Applicants who included a Performance Relative to Opportunity (PTRO) statement in their application were equally or more successful than those who did not use PTRO  –  demonstrating that this is producing equitable outcomes
  • There was no detrimental impact of part-time status when applying for academic promotion in 2022.

The Swinburne Women’s Academic Network’s submission was coordinated by members Dr Catherine Orr, Professor Helana Scheepers, Associate Professor Mahnaz Shafiei, Associate Professor Christine Agius, Dr Carolyn Beasley, and Jacqui Olney, Diversity Equity and Inclusion.

Next step on Swinburne’s path to gender equity accreditation

The SAGE Cygnet Awards are one of several stages within the pathway to Athena Swan accreditation.

Looking ahead, Swinburne plans to mature the university’s intersectional approach and apply for four further SAGE Cygnet Awards, which will map to key barriers identified in the university’s SAGE Action Plan 2022-25. These include recruitment, retention, flexibility, and workload and intersectionality.

Once an institution achieves five Cygnet Awards, they are eligible to apply for Athena SWAN Silver Award accreditation, which recognises maturity in gender equity, diversity and inclusion.

Learn more about Swinburne’s commitment to the Science in Australia Gender Equity initiative.

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