UQ stems the loss of women

The University of Queensland has received the Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award, as part of its long-term plan to improve gender equity and diversity university-wide.

The award is part of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative which requires participants to collect and analyse data to determine barriers and challenges impacting women’s STEMM careers and develop an Action Plan to mitigate or remove the known barriers.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Bronwyn Harch said UQ was committed to increasing the recruitment, promotion and retention of women, not only in STEMM but across the university.

“The University is working to transform the opportunities available to women and to stem the loss of female staff at a certain stage of their career,” Professor Harch said.

“UQ’s Action Plan targets multiple career stages and has a focus on increasing diverse women’s representation in leadership roles and addressing the gender pay gap.

“Improving the retention of mid-career researchers, enhanced support for early career academics and growing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women STEMM academics are other areas of focus for UQ.

“Access to childcare, improved work-life balance and improved flexible working arrangements deliver outcomes for staff of all genders and at different life stages.”

Professor Harch said the Bronze Award set solid foundations for UQ’s journey to transformative change for diversity and inclusion.

Professor Avril Robertson from the School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience and Institute for Molecular Bioscience is a fitting example of the benefits of encouraging women in STEMM.

She suffered from severe asthma as a child, a condition which caused her to miss a lot of school.

Professor Robertson now works in the field of drug discovery, saying the difference Ventolin made to her life was a prime motivator in her career choice.

“I can clearly recall the first time I took Ventolin and how much this drug benefitted my life,” she said.

“My pursuit of science as a career comes from a very strong desire to make a difference in medical science, and to give other people that feeling of relief.”

Professor Robertson was nominated as an Ambassador for UQ’s SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN , a position she saw as an honour and an opportunity to highlight opportunities for women.

“My advice is to seek a strong mentor that you can call on for advice and help, and also that you can trust, to celebrate your successes along the way and promote what you have done.”

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