Gender equity

We are losing women from the Australian science sector.

Women comprise more than half of science PhD graduates and early career researchers, but just 17% of senior academics in Australian universities and research institutes. The loss of so many women scientists is a significant waste of expertise, talent and investment, and this impacts our nation’s scientific performance and productivity.

Australia needs to urgently address barriers of gender equity to:

  • retain our best scientists and innovators to ensure Australia effectively maintains research and development excellence
  • keep our best and brightest minds in the fields in which they have the most potential to deliver
  • ensure social and economic returns on the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent each year on training women scientists, by supporting them.

Current approaches to tackling gender equity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and medicine (STEMM) have been fragmented and for the most part unsuccessful.

The SAGE initiative

Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) is an initiative of the Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. It addresses gender equity in the STEMM sector.

The program has been adapted from the Athena SWAN Charter, established in the UK in 2005, an accreditation and improvement program for higher education and research organisations focusing on gender and other forms of inequality. The Athena Swan Charter is proving highly successful in transforming gender equity action to improve the promotion and retention of women and gender minorities within STEMM.

The pilot

The SAGE pilot was launched on 16 September 2015, making Australia the first nation beyond the UK and Ireland to pilot the Athena SWAN Charter program.

Forty institutions around Australia are taking part in the SAGE pilot, whereby they must apply for an Athena SWAN Bronze Institutional Award, demonstrating a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff. This process takes around two years including preparation, training and collating evidence.

For more information on SAGE or its pilot program, visit the SAGE website.

Join the initiative

You can help to champion the cause of women in STEM by supporting SAGE in its pilot of the Athena SWAN Charter. Donate directly to the initiative and/or join our mailing list to keep up to date with SAGE activities.

© 2017 Australian Academy of Science

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