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The Institute's Gender Equity and Diversity Committee was formed in 2014 to establish initiatives to address the issue of female under-representation at senior levels in science at the Institute, and more broadly across the sector. Studies show while almost 50 per cent of science graduates in Australia are women, only 17 per cent of women occupy senior academic positions at research institutes and universities.

We also recognise the need to proactively build and support diversity within our organisation for the overall strength and success of the Institute. The staff and students at the Institute represent many diverse backgrounds and we recognise, embrace and support this diversity to foster a positive work environment and build sustainable changes to ensure that we remain an inclusive and diverse workforce.

How we are supporting diversity and empowering women

The Institute is pleased to be participating in a national, data-driven accreditation program focused on gender equity and diversity in science. In 2018, the Baker Institute was one of the first 15 research institutes and universities recognised for its efforts to improve gender equity and diversity with an inaugural Athena SWAN Bronze Award from Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE). The Bronze level is the first SAGE award to be made available in Australia. The Institute is continuing to work toward greater change and a Silver Award.

GEDC photos

We have introduced a range of important initiatives, practices, and processes that we are proud of including:

  • Prestigious Alice Baker and Eleanor Shaw Gender Equity Fellowships supported by our long-time supporters, the Baker Foundation, and the Institute. In the past few years, we have offered two senior five-year female fellowships.
  • We established a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) working group to undertake an Innovate RAP and have implemented a range of practical actions to drive our contribution to reconciliation internally, and within our local communities in Melbourne and Central Australia.
  • We have held parenting and women’s coaching workshops; an intersectionality walk; diversity and inclusion training, and talks by gender equity and diversity advocates.
  • We have introduced greater paid primary caregiver leave, paid special parental leave, family support leave and partner leave in our Enterprise Agreements.
  • We have embedded Acknowledgement of Country within our work practices.
  • Rainbow lanyards, pronoun pins, welcome signs, email signatures and female role models in marketing material that reflect our commitment to gender equity and diversity.

As we work toward a Silver Athena SWAN Silver Award, we have identified barriers and aim to address the following five areas as part of our Action Plan to drive change. These include:

  1. Workplace and organisational culture
    We are addressing a lack of embedded positive culture that prioritises and supports gender equity and a culturally diverse workforce.
  2. Addressing the proportion of women in senior leadership positions
    We are taking proactive steps to address the inadequate promotion of women.
  3. Recruitment of women to mid-level and leadership positions
    We want to address the inability to recruit and maintain women at senior levels and are taking a multipronged approach to proactively address this important issue.
  4. Inadequate career progression and retention of female researchers
    We are working to address inadequate support relating to parental leave for both men and women.
  5. Flexibility in the workplace
    We aim to address a lack of ‘flexibility’ awareness and flexible work policies across the organisation.

Succession planning in leadership and sharing the load is critical in championing sustainable change in gender equity.

Succession planning in leadership and sharing the load is critical in championing sustainable change in gender equity

To find out more about our Gender Equity and Diversity Committee, contact one of the Co-Chairs Associate Professor Morag Young or Professor Vaughan Macefield.

Athena SWAN Bronze Award

In 2018, the Baker Institute was one of 15 research institutes and universities recognised for its efforts to improve gender equity and diversity with an inaugural Athena SWAN Bronze Award from Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE). The Bronze level is the first SAGE award to be made available in Australia.

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