Outlook Magazine 2021/22

The women's issue

This year's edition of UOW Outlook Magazine - the women's issue - explores three key themes: Business and leadership; The big issues facing women; Health and lifestyle. We also acknowledge and celebrate the incredible impact our alumni are having around the globe.

Welcome to UOW Outlook Magazine

UOW Vice-Chancellor and President Patricia M. Davidson shares her welcome message.

Speaker 1 [00:00:11] Hello and welcome to Outlook Magazine, the University of Wollongong’s flagship publication for alumni. My name is Patricia Davidson and I'm the new Vice-Chancellor and president of the University of Wollongong. I'm a proud alumna of UOW, having studied here in the late 70s. My life and career have taken me in many directions, most recently to the United States, where I was the Dean of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. It's my great honour to have returned to UOW at this critical point in time, and I promise to do all I can to unashamedly promote the UOW I know and love, while adapting and refocusing our values going forward. For anyone in any leadership position at this time, it's a huge responsibility and I'm determined to get things right, to learn from the past and to be the leader that the University needs right now and into the future. I, like you, have watched UOW expand and flourish over the years, and I hope you will continue to come along the journey as we enter the next phase of this University's great history. As you may know, Outlook Magazine features stories about our alumni, students, academics and our latest groundbreaking research. This is a space to celebrate the diversity of our community and its achievements. This year's issue focuses on the inequalities and urgent issues facing women, and as UOW’s first female Vice- Chancellor, I feel a strong sense of duty towards this cause. Not only do I understand the huge role I play as a woman in leadership, but I also know that I have earned the opportunity in my role to make real and lasting change for women, not only in our University community, but more broadly and I do not take that responsibility lightly. With privilege comes great responsibility. Inside these pages, you will read some devastating statistics about domestic violence, the gender pay gap, a lack of women in leadership positions, and much more. We can't include or even begin to understand the full extent of the issues facing women with different backgrounds and at different life stages. But we do know that they are many and varying. Creating this space to talk about them, gain insight from experts in these fields and have open and honest discussion is a very good place to start. And I thank our UOW Advancement team for an incredible effort producing this work. However, I invite our alumni community to please take these stories further. Tell your family and friends about what you’ve read, donate to causes you think might help alleviate these issues. Stand up for women in the workplace, believe in women, hold them up, don't put them down and remember, kindness is everything. I would also like to encourage those able to put themselves forward as a mentor for young driven women studying in a similar field at the University of Wollongong. There is no denying the empowerment that mentorship and sponsorship can offer. I hope you will also take from these pages the incredible work being done to reduce the burden of these issues near, far and everywhere. Reading about the work of those in politics, in the not-for-profit sector, in law, and much more, it is encouraging to know that real people are investing their time and expertise to spur positive change. Anyone can do anything if you work hard and surround yourself with people who support and enable you. This University is a fantastic place to find those people, and I'm here to be one of those people, and I hope that the opportunities presented to me throughout my career will also be available and achievable for the staff, faculty and alumni of the University of Wollongong. Thank you for coming on this journey with us, I hope you're happy and healthy wherever you are in the world and from one UOW alumni to another, thank you for continuing to make us proud.

The changing world of business and leadership

When the world was brought to a standstill by the global pandemic, it was up to business leaders and industry to pivot their operations to online. Many managed to survive in this constant climate of lockdowns and business closures by going digital. This shift to the digital world has forced us to adapt to the online workplace and develop new technical skills required for online communication and events. The pandemic has inadvertently revolutionised the way we work, opening up opportunities to work from anywhere there is an internet connection. And it seems, for many organisations, this hybrid working model is here to stay.

While many deal with the shock and aftermath of losing employment and business opportunity over the last two years, others are taking the opportunity to upskill with postgraduate education – many enrolling in an MBA degree to enhance business acumen and increase opportunity for promotion to leadership positions. With a long-documented imbalance in the ratio of male to female CEOs and board members, there is now a business imperative to even up these numbers with businesses recognising the importance of women having a seat at the decision-making table.

Already we are seeing a shift in the number of women rising up in their careers and taking on leadership roles. From working in global tech companies to becoming leaders in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine, young women and girls are being encouraged more than ever to step into what have traditionally been male-dominated sectors across the STEM subjects, supporting this shift away from gender-specific careers. Similarly, we are seeing more men entering traditionally female-dominated careers including teaching and nursing, providing much needed diversity in these fields. It is fair to say the world of business and notion of gender balance in leadership is rapidly changing.

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The big issues facing women

With some significant issues affecting women leading the news headlines earlier this year, UOW Outlook Magazine wanted to shine a light on the current state of play, while also highlighting how our alumni are working in their different fields to address these issues head-on to help bring about more positive lasting change.

We examine how Australia is tracking with the pace of change towards gender equality, and the role men can play to further support parity in the gender pay gap. UOW engineering alumna Dr Bronwyn Evans shares her insights to help enact change by taking deliberate and consistent action in the workplace. And with the COVID-19 pandemic further impacting the already concerning levels of domestic violence, UOW alumna Sally Stevenson has helped spearhead the establishment of the first Women’s Trauma Recovery Centre in Australia, while fellow alumna, Diane Manns, has been instrumental in the establishment of programs, campaigns and toolkits aimed at helping to reduce domestic violence.

We also hear from three female graduates who have taken on the world of politics across the three major political parties; Labor, Liberal and The Greens. They explain why they went into politics, their experience of being women in politics, how they have been able to help contribute to policy and the positive outcomes they have achieved in doing so.

And finally we examine how inclusion of the LGBTIQA+ community across organisations is gaining momentum. In recent years, UOW has been recognised as one of the most LGBTIQA+ friendly universities in Australia by the Human Rights Commission. Last year the University adopted its first “gender identity and affirmation guideline” and in April this year a set of rainbow stairs was unveiled as a visual demonstration of support and celebration of our diverse community.

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Health and lifestyle

There have been some important and significant improvements in healthcare since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but there are still areas that need greater attention.

At UOW, countless bright female minds have been pushing the boundaries to seek solutions that prioritise women’s health and help them thrive. Interdisciplinary researchers from across the University and internationally are looking at a range of issues, from providing a more holistic approach to treating serious mental health disorders, to helping women find the most comfortable sports bra that make sport practice and a healthy lifestyle more attainable.

Meanwhile in a 2020 report, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare stated women made up more than two-thirds of all people seeking homelessness support, with women aged over 55 identified as the fastest growing group of homeless people in Australia. In the Illawarra, academics and alumni are working together to create more affordable housing and a fair and inclusive community in which everyone can prosper.

Amid the pandemic and despite shortages of doctors across regional, rural and remote Australia, graduates from the University’s medical school have been leading the way in their field, making an impact in their communities, inspiring the next generation of rural and regional doctors and improving the health outcomes of those people living in regional Australia. Like many of our graduates, from nurses to teachers and engineers, they have been working in fields on the front line supporting the COVID-19 response and path to recovery.

There’s no doubt our alumni have endless amounts of passion, innovation, and style. We are proud to showcase those alumni making their mark in a range of industries on the national and global scale from fashion to art and design, media and community service, mental health advocacy and trauma recovery.

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Celebrating our alumni

We continue a proud tradition of acknowledging our remarkable alumni who are change-makers and leaders in their field. They are not afraid to challenge the status quo and maintain their vision for success with the intention of making a positive impact on the people and world around them. We've uncovered some social media influencers who we feel are worth following and look forward to keeping up with their professional progress. And we recap on the year that was, sharing institutional highlights, our alumni engagement and our major fundraising campaign, Born of Steel.

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