The Academy is committed to supporting excellence in science and empowering the next generation of scientists. As recognised in our strategic plan, we recognise that to achieve this we must celebrate and embrace diversity and inclusion in all its forms and embed diversity and inclusion in everything we do.
As a national academy we have a responsibility to model, promote and influence best practice in diversity and inclusion in the science sector in Australia.
Our Equity and Diversity Reference Group is an advisory body to the Academy’s Council, providing recommendations to improve diversity and to uphold the principles of inclusion, equal opportunity, fairness and transparency in Academy policies and procedures.
To support our work in diversity and inclusion we have adopted a Code of Conduct which clearly outlines conduct expectations, the values of the Academy and procedures for handling misconduct. The code is based on best practice and is binding for Fellows, staff and participants in all Academy activities.
The Academy is a proud member of Diversity Council Australia, a peak body leading diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This membership not only provides the Academy with resources to assist in supporting our diverse workforce and our inclusion activities, it also identifies the Academy as an employer of choice.
The gender imbalance of the Fellowship is an important issue for the Academy. Women comprise 14% of all living Fellows, and we have worked hard in recent years to address this issue. Our actions to improve diversity are succeeding—over the past five years, 35% of the 105 Fellows elected to the Academy were women. This has been achieved by adopting a range of best practice measures to improve our nominations process and increase opportunities to recognise all scientists. Learn more about the election process.
We have appointed more than 20 ‘Champions of Diversity’ within the Fellowship to be ambassadors in each scientific discipline across the country, tasked with identifying diversity candidates and proposers to put forward nominations for Fellowship and awards.
Professor Cheryl Praeger, former Foreign Secretary of the Australian Academy of Science, chairs the Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia (AASSA) Special Committee for Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). In 2018, WISE published Profiles of Women Scientists in Asia: Their inspirational stories, featuring 50 researcher profiles from across the AASSA membership countries in a celebration of the dedication, passion and resilience of women in science throughout the region.
The Academy successfully nominates women scientists to international scientific committees. For example, Academy Fellow Professor Nalini Joshi is Vice President of the International Mathematical Union Sciences, and Dr Helen Cleugh is a member of the joint scientific committee of the World Climate Research Programme.
We have developed the Women in STEM Decadal Plan in collaboration with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. The plan provides a 10-year roadmap for achieving sustained increases in women’s STEM participation and retention from school through to careers.
Action is being taken by Women in STEM Decadal Plan Champions—members of the STEM ecosystem who have agreed to publicly align their gender equity journey with the decadal plan. Learn more about the Women in STEM Decadal Plan Champions.
We partner with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering to roll out the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot. To find out more about this project visit the SAGE website.
STEM Women is a dynamic, curated online directory of Australian women working in STEM across industry and academia. Developed in partnership with Science & Technology Australia, CSIRO and the Australian Science Media Centre, the directory aims to promote gender equity in STEM by showcasing the breadth of scientific talent in Australia, enabling a diverse range of women to be offered exciting opportunities to progress their careers and personal capabilities.
The Academy Council has taken the following pledge, and encourages all those in STEM to consider how taking a panel pledge may have a positive influence on diversity:
‘I believe in gender equity and diversity as an ethical principle.
I pledge to ensure that all forums in which I have operational input, take gender diversity into account and strive towards equity of voice.
I pledge that when invited to speak at an event, I will inquire about the composition of the panelists/speakers, and how the organisers are working towards achieving gender diversity.
I will highlight and promote relevant gender diverse leaders in my field.
I will state my commitment to this pledge at forums at which I speak.
I will reserve the right to withdraw should gender diversity not be appropriately considered.’
We are continually seeking to increase diversity of nominees for all our grants and awards. We are improving gender equity in grants and awards programs through improved advertising mechanisms, changes to the application process that normalise career breaks and presenting multiple awards if one of the top two ranked candidates is a woman. Exploration into a new honorific career medal that would honour and celebrate women scientists’ achievements is also underway.
Changes to membership requirements have led to each of our award selection committees consisting of a broader cohort of the scientific community than Academy Fellows. In addition, all members are requested to undergo unconscious bias and group think training.
The Academy wants to ensure everyone can participate fully in our events. During our annual flagship event, Science at the Shine Dome, we offer assistance to support the attendance of delegates who would not otherwise be able to attend or who face obstacles to their attendance. Previously this has included onsite childcare and carer’s assistance grants. Accessibility assistance for speakers is also offered across Academy-run events such as the Canberra Speakers Series, and is strongly encouraged at Academy supported events.
We are committed to advancing reconciliation, creating opportunities to work respectfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, supporting their contribution to scientific activities, and increasing understandings of Indigenous knowledge.
Under our Reconciliation Action Plan, we currently:
Further activities that align with the implementation of our Reconciliation Action Plan are under development.
The Early- and Mid-Career Researcher (EMCR) Forum is the national voice of Australia's emerging STEM researchers. It champions improvement in the national research environment for EMCRs through advocacy.
Through the Theo Murphy Initiative (Australia), the Academy conducts 3-6 activities and events annually to support Australia’s EMCR community. The purpose of these activities is to provide tangible benefits to EMCRs to support their careers and ultimately further scientific discovery.
© 2019 Australian Academy of Science