UOW receives prestigious award for commitment to gender equity

UOW receives prestigious award for commitment to gender equity

Athena Swan Bronze Institution Award recognises work to advance careers of women in STEMM fields

The University of Wollongong (UOW) has been awarded the prestigious Athena SWAN Bronze Institution Award from Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE), which recognises the University’s commitment to gender equality in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM).

The Hon Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, announced the award winners last night (Wednesday 5 December) during a ceremony at Parliament House, Canberra.

The SAGE initiative was established to pilot the United Kingdom’s Athena SWAN Charter in Australia. Launched in 2015, SAGE is a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

SAGE is aimed at improving gender equity and diversity in STEMM in the Australian higher education and research sector.

The Athena SWAN Bronze Institution Award recognises an institution’s commitment to advancing the careers of women, trans and gender-diverse individuals in STEMM disciplines.

In September 2015, to participate in the SAGE pilot program, a two-year Australian initiative.

As part of the program, the University agreed to uphold the 10 principles of gender equity, including commitment to preventing the loss of women across the career pipeline, tackling the gender pay gap, addressing the negative consequences of short-term contracts and stamping out discrimination against transgender staff.

UOW’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Wellings, CBE, said the University was committed to gender equality, for both academic and professional staff, and was thrilled to be involved in the SAGE initiative.

“UOW is delighted to have received an Athena SWAN Bronze Institution Award and to be recognised as a leader in this space,” Professor Wellings said.

“Gender equality is critical to an organisation’s success and crucial for society as a whole, and we are working to ensure that the message is conveyed to staff and students, particularly in the traditionally male-focused STEMM disciplines.

“Receiving this award highlights the number of positive changes being implemented across UOW and the progress being made, but we need to ensure that we maintain tempo in workforce diversity policy and practice.”

Dr Wafa El-Adhami, Executive Director of SAGE, congratulated the Bronze Award recipients following the ceremony and said all institutions had a role to play in effecting social change.

“Since SAGE began, the STEMM higher education and research sector in Australia has stepped up its efforts to address gender equity and diversity. The sector wants to make a difference and is now committed to and invested in Athena SWAN,” she said.

“For transformational change and large cultural shifts, we all need to work together and that is exactly what has happened on the SAGE journey. Congratulations to everyone who has been part of this pioneering and bold initiative.”

As a large organisation with more than 2,300 staff, UOW understands the value of celebrating diversity and integrating inclusive practices into all areas of employee engagement including recruitment, learning and development, and leadership.

UOW has implemented a number of policies, strategies and initiatives to further enhance gender equality, including mentoring workshops, targeted development programs, flexible work arrangements (such as part time and job sharing), generous paid parental leave and on-campus childcare facilities.

The University is also recognised by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency as Employer of Choice for Gender Equality.

Photo: Associate Professor Danielle Skropeta, from UOW's School of Chemistry. Credit: Paul Jones