Update from the Executive Director

It is now almost four months since I was appointed to the role of Executive Director SAGE, and so it is timely that I share updates on my journey so far.

Along with Dr Saraid Billiards, our new Head of Strategy & Engagement, I have been on the road convening workshops, holding the inaugural meeting of the SAGE Expert Advisory Group (EAG) and conducting SAGE institutional visits across Australia.

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The August workshops provided us an excellent opportunity to meet representatives from most of the institutions participating in the SAGE pilot and to gather feedback on their experience and progress through thus far.  We also explored views and insights on the suitability of the Athena Swan accreditation framework for the Australian context and elements that will require adaptation or de novo development. Importantly, we learnt about the range of workplace issues emerging from data analyses and the many good practices already under way in support of gender equality and diversity; these will no doubt provide an excellent resource for Australian best practices to be shared nationally.

In September, SAGE was host to Sarah Dickinson-Hyams, Head of Equality Charters of the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), UK and a member of the SAGE Expert Advisory Group.  Sarah worked with us around training support from the ECU, access to ECU guidance and resources and planning to establish the Assessment Panels in readiness for the first set of Athena SWAN Bronze application submissions due in quarter 1 of 2018.

September also saw us progress visitation to the institutions taking part in the second cohort of the pilot, meeting with senior leaders and other staff members responsible for working on the Athena SWAN Bronze Application.  It is rewarding to share the excitement and commitment of the charter members, and to experience first-hand the many approaches and activities institutes put in train upon launching their SAGE journey.

I can certainly say that it has been a busy and rewarding three months, characterised by insightful learning coupled with passion and commitment to advance gender equality and diversity in STEMM across the Australian higher education and research sectors.

So, while it feels like plenty has happened we know there is much more to do over the coming months.

Wafa El-Adhami