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25 September 2019

Institute news

Gender Equity — how I learned to step up and why you should too

The Vice-Chancellor of Charles Sturt University, Professor Andrew Vann, recently addressed Alfred Research Alliance staff about championing gender equity.

Like the Baker Institute, Charles Sturt University also received a SAGE Athena SWAN Bronze Award for its work in gender equity and diversity last year.

Professor Vann said in science and academia, the focus was very much on successful careers but questioned why we couldn’t focus more on successful and fulfilling lives?

He said gender equity was a personal issue and very confronting. He dissected his own life, which he acknowledged was one of white, male privilege in the male-dominated sector of engineering, and said cultural norms had enabled him to focus strongly on his career.

Professor Vann said one of the most notable exercises he had undertaken was a leadership shadow exercise where some staff revealed to him that they didn’t know what he personally thought about gender equity, having never heard him voice his views. He said it showed he had not been talking about this issue loudly enough. “Everything we say and do matters”.

In trying to lead cultural change in his organisation, he said initiatives they found to be successful included changing the criteria of jobs that were weighted toward men in terms of time commitments to ensure women could also successfully carry out these roles.

This seminar was presented by the Institute’s Gender Equity and Diversity Committee.

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