UOW celebrates International Women’s Day
Outstanding women leaders within the UOW community share their stories and experiences
The University of Wollongong (UOW) celebrated International Women’s Day on Monday 8 March with a panel discussion and afternoon tea at the Wollongong campus.
In his welcoming address, UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE presented an overview of the University’s progress towards its goal of achieving gender equality, and picked up on the theme of this year’s celebration, “Choose to Challenge”.
“Equality is about choice. The University of Wollongong recognises that bolstering gender equality is not just a social justice issue – it also represents smart business management,” Professor Wellings said.
“Organisations thrive when all genders are given equal opportunity to achieve their goals and contribute to the workplace.
“The University has a proud history and reputation for promoting and supporting gender equality including closing the gender pay gap. In fact, we are one of the nation’s leading workplaces for gender equality.
“The University is constantly striving towards a workplace that is inclusive, supportive, and focused on achieving the best for all employees. UOW understands the value of integrating inclusive practices into all areas of employee engagement including recruitment, learning and development, and leadership.
“We are all working together to achieve gender equality. We all have a role to play to work towards this goal.”
Acting Dean of the Faculty of Science Medicine and Health Professor Tracey Moroney OAM also spoke to the gathering of academic and professional services staff, before acting as the panel moderator.
In her speech, Professor Moroney highlighted UOW’s involvement in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE)/Athena SWAN program as part of its commitment to enhancing opportunities for women in academia
“UOW was one of the first universities in Australia to participate in the SAGE/Athena SWAN program,” Professor Moroney said.
“This program is aimed to improve the representation of women in the STEMM disciplines [science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine] by analysing key data and developing an Action Plan.
“UOW was awarded an Athena SWAN Bronze Institution Award in December 2018, and implementation of our four-year Action Plan, is now well underway.
“We are proud of some of the inroads we’ve made, particularly surrounding increasing women on shortlists, unconscious bias training for recruitment and selection panels, and promotion panels, and the recent appointments of Associate Deans (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) in each Faculty and in the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials.
“UOW is now in the planning stages of an Athena SWAN Silver Institution Award, and continues to be nationally recognised as an employer of choice for gender equality.”
Professor Moroney said the panel discussion brought together outstanding women leaders within the UOW community to share insights on their careers.
“As academics and as women we have an important role to play in mentoring others and in sharing our stories and experiences,” she said
On the panel were four of the University’s leading academics, representing a variety of disciplines and life experiences: Professor Kathleen Clapham, Professor Melanie Randle, Senior Professor Sharon Robinson and Dr Marian Wong.
Professor Kathleen Clapham is an Aboriginal Australian, a descendent of the Murrawarri people of north-western NSW.
She holds the position of Professor (Indigenous Health) and Director of the Ngarruwan Ngadju First People’s Health and Wellbeing Research Centre at UOW, where she leads a team of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers.
Professor Clapham has more than 30 years’ experience in Indigenous health higher education and research. Her research has focused strongly on the safety, health and wellbeing of children and young people, community-based interventions, the social determinants of health, and health services research aimed at improving the health and safety of Indigenous people.
She seeks to achieve tangible benefits to Aboriginal people through research, which will have impacts in terms of reduced harm, social and health improvements, and capacity development.
Melanie Randle is Professor of Marketing and Associate Dean (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) in the Faculty of Business and Law. She has also previously served as Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Business and Chair of the UOW Social Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee.
Professor Randle’s research focusses primarily on vulnerable populations and has included studies which aim to increase numbers of volunteers, attract more foster carers, achieve greater inclusion of people with disabilities, encourage pro-environmental behaviours, and reduce problem gambling.
2021 International Women's Day panellists (left to right) Kathleen Clapham, Melanie Randle, Sharon Robinson and Marian Wong.
Senior Professor Sharon Robinson is the Executive Director of UOW’s Global Challenges Program and Challenge Leader for the Sustaining Coastal and Marine Zones theme within the program.
Professor Robinson researches how Antarctic plants respond to climate change. She uses radiocarbon signatures, left behind in the atmosphere by nuclear testing, to date mosses and track environmental change around the coast of Antarctica. She is also applying new technologies, including the use of drones in Antarctica, to monitor plant health and productivity, and developing novel sensors that will help to track crop and forest health in future.
After completing her PhD at the University College London in 1990, Professor Robinson held postdoctoral positions in the USA and Australia. She is currently a member of the United Nations Environment Programme Environmental Effects Assessment Panel and a Faculty member and Science theme leader for the Homeward Bound 2019 Women’s leadership Program.
In 2021, Sharon was named winner of Wollongong City Council’s Australia Day 2021 Innovation Achievement Award for her record of outstanding achievement locally, nationally and internationally.
Dr Marian Wong is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Solutions, in the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences.
She is originally from the UK, where she conducted her undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge, then went on to do her PhD in marine biology at James Cook University, Queensland. Following two successive post-docs in North America, Dr Wong came to UOW in 2013 as a lecturer in marine biology.
Dr Wong’s research interests lie in the behavioural ecology and conservation behaviour of social fishes. Her lab uses social fishes from both marine and freshwater environments as model species to test key hypotheses related to the evolution of conflict, cooperation, group-living and mating systems.
UOW is proud of its commitment to gender equality and the International Women’s Day event was an opportunity to celebrate what the University community has achieved, while raising awareness of the opportunity to create further positive change.