The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is among the first group of Australian institutions to receive the Athena SWAN Bronze Accreditation for its commitment to action addressing gender equity in the STEMM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.
The accreditation was awarded as part of the first Australian pilot of the Athena SWAN gender equity program that has been in place in the UK since 2005.
The pilot is an initiative of Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE), a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.
The Athena SWAN principles have been described as the most comprehensive and practical scheme to improve academics’ careers by addressing gender inequity.
[It] marks a step change in our approach to gender equity and diversity, both at UTS and for the higher education sector.
Prof Attila Brungs
Barriers to women’s career progression in STEMM are common across the sector. The award reflects UTS’s long-term commitment to transformational change, beginning with a two-year process of grassroots engagement and reflection to identify specific barriers affecting women’s career progression. This inquiry then informed a four-year action plan detailing concrete actions to address these issues while prioritising female leadership and valuing diversity.
“UTS already has a strong reputation for supporting inclusivity and valuing diversity, having been awarded the Workplace Gender Equality Agency Employer of Choice citation every year since its inception,” UTS’s Executive Director, Social Justice, Verity Firth, said.
“The Athena SWAN program is an enabling mechanism that will allow us to engage in a whole-of-university approach to build on existing initiatives and bring about structural transformation.”
Universities were well placed to drive the concrete actions needed to break the pattern of gender inequity, she said.
Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Sullivan, who chaired the UTS Athena SWAN self-assessment team, said that the Athena SWAN 4 year action plan would drive sustainable change for good practice. She said “This is a significant milestone in the evolution of the university’s approach to workforce culture that clearly signals that gender equity is everybody’s business and responsibility.”
UTS’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Attila Brungs, welcomed the opportunity to accelerate progress towards gender equity in academia. “Athena SWAN marks a step change in our approach to gender equity and diversity, both at UTS and for the higher education sector in Australia,” he said.
“I’d like to congratulate the other successful Bronze Award recipients. While we’re still at the beginning of our journey, many of the complex issues we face are common across institutions. I welcome the opportunity to work together to bring the sector forward step by step toward gender parity.”
The Chair of the SAGE Expert Advisory Group, Elizabeth Broderick AO FTSE, said the enthusiasm with which the sector had embraced the SAGE Pilot had been exciting to see. “It gives me enormous confidence that the sector is elevating the issue of gender equality and taking strong action.”
Actions UTS has already implemented include setting an overarching target of 40 per cent academic women in STEMM by 2022. It has also established equity and diversity committees in all STEMM faculties and a university-wide UTS Social Justice and Inclusion Committee, the first priority of which will be tackling the gender pay gap.
Find out more about UTS’s strategic approach to gender equity at equalfutures.uts.edu.au.