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.
History of SAGE
The Australian Academy of Science (“the Academy”) confronted this gap in gender equity in 2013, when its annual selection of Academy Fellows did not include any women. SAGE came into being as an initiative within the Academy to address internal gender equity policies as well as to address external factors impacting on gender equity within the STEMM sector.
In November 2014, the Academy hosted the SAGE Forum, bringing together over 140 experts from around Australia who discussed areas of critical impact on gender equity in STEMM. The unanimous consensus was that concerted action is required immediately across the sector. The key recommendation of the Forum was to undertake the Australian Pilot of the Athena SWAN Charter. Athena SWAN is a renowned UK program providing an evaluation and accreditation framework for gender equity issues in STEMM.
In late April 2015, a Steering Committee was established and a project team was appointed to manage the SAGE Pilot and other gender equity and diversity activities. The SAGE team currently works within the Australian Academy of Science.
In September 2015, the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) joined SAGE as a partner alongside the Academy.
Also in September, the SAGE Pilot of the Athena SWAN Charter was officially launched at Parliament House.
The SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN involves 40 Australian Charter members, including 30 universities, six medical research institutes and four government science organisations. The SAGE Pilot has adapted the UK processes for the Australian context, running training workshops on gender equity, and providing gender equity accreditation for universities, medical research centres and Government research organisations who will participate in the SAGE Pilot.