Impact and progress. They are the words from on high. Impact of your efforts and progress against your action plan are required to secure a silver medal in Australia’s most complex and prestigious Gender Equity Accreditation program designed specifically for Higher Education and Research. Sound simple? Far from it I would think.
We know that Universities have been tackling gender equity for a long time, some very proactively and some not so much. It has proven a hard nut to crack. So what says these new SAGE Athena SWAN action plans are going to nail it, shift the dial, create sustainable change?
Well for those whose action plans address the key concerns revealed by their own institutional data, I have high hopes. There are some thoughtful, targeted and measurable actions that implemented correctly should definitely create impact and by carrying the action out as described, you demonstrate progress.
Examples of these actions are many across all the plans released to date. Just to highlight a few:
Action 3.12 from the University of Newcastle looks to expand eligibility criteria for internal funding schemes that were previously not available to staff on fixed term contracts. The University recognised that more women were on fixed term contracts than men and this was therefore a systemic barrier to women. Tangible impact and progress could be demonstrated if grant outcomes for women increase.
RMIT’s plan has 10 recruitment actions looking to proactively increase the number of women applying for academic roles in STEMM. If they have the resources to achieve these actions, you would be surprised if representation of women in STEMM roles didn’t increase, hence again demonstrating impact of action and progress against their plan.
But will Universities, like these and others, be able to maintain focus and effort on these plans over the next four years? There is a significant amount of work in every single plan, across every part of the University. In the current climate, and as the fanfare of the program dies down – will we see resources drop, priorities change? I hope not.
SAGE Athena SWAN has the potential to create sustainable long-term change for a problem that requires dedication and a holistic approach. Quick fixes won’t do it, nor will isolated women in leadership programs. Keep the focus, keep (and increase) the resources and ensure your evaluation processes are in place or…..I’d expect bad news come the next SAGE announcements.
15 October 2021
06 September 2021
16 August 2021