The UOW Women of Impact initiative was launched to a packed house in July, celebrating the contribution of women academics at UOW.

Researchers focused on solving complex world challenges, academics advancing knowledge in fast-moving industries and teachers passionately mentoring a new generation are among 41 researchers recognised as UOW Women of Impact in 2016.

Designed to expand the profile of the outstanding contributions of women educators and researchers at the University, the Women of Impact initiative coincided with the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) ATHENA Swan accreditation pilot.

Dr Marie-Claude Gregoire, the Research Theme Leader, Human Health at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, was guest speaker at the event and described some of the steps ANSTO had taken towards engaging their workforce in gender equality.

Xiaoqi Feng and Helen McGregor, two UOW Women of Impact, also addressed the event. Dr Feng outlined her work to tackle type II diabetes, and the research partnerships she and her team have established with hospitals, local area health organisations and government to grow impact.

Dr McGregor – who recently co-authored a Nature paper on climate change (see pg xx) – focused her talk on the opportunities that science and research had offered her, and said that “we must challenge ourselves to be seen in non-traditional roles”.

The UOW Women of Impact initiative is designed to further enhance the public profile of research and teaching at UOW and was inspired by the University’s participation in the SAGE pilot. This is based on the successful UK program Athena SWAN, an accreditation and improvement program that recognises commitment to advancing women’s careers in these traditionally male-dominated disciplines.

During the Pilot UOW will work towards an Athena SWAN Bronze award which involves a detailed application process, collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data, identification of gaps in policy, process and strategy and the formulation of solutions, articulated in an Action Plan with a four-year horizon. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Judy Raper, said that female academics at UOW are undertaking vital research that is critical to Australia’s future, however “we recognise that it can be a tough road to the top for many female academics”.

“UOW already has a range of policies in place to address these structural barriers, but is committed to improving our systems and coming up with new strategies to assist women in science.”

The academics profiled as part of the UOW Women of Impact initiative were nominated by colleagues and peers from the UOW community, and 41 were then selected for inclusion by a selection panel, chaired by Professor Raper.

The launch of UOW Women of Impact was an open-invitation to all staff and some local community members, and the strong turnout is a testament to the interest in teaching and research at UOW and the support for initiatives supporting gender equality.

At the launch, Professor Raper said that on a daily basis she encountered “tenacious, capable and intelligent women, working hard in teaching, research and administration to deliver the strategic goals of UOW – and fulfil their career dreams”.

“Although we work in, and across, different fields and disciplines, we are all singularly motivated to make a difference, to encourage change for the better and to improve the future.

“The quality of work and collective effort towards the University’s goals featured in the UOW Women of Impact profiles is impressive and I’d like to thank all of our Women of Impact for taking part.”

The UOW Women of Impact profiles can be viewed at: http://www.uow.edu.au/research/woi/index.html

Limited copies of the booklet are available from the Research Services Office: research@uow.edu.au.

More information about UOW’s participation in the SAGE pilot can be found at: http://staff.uow.edu.au/eed/ies/aswan/UOW218168.html