Prof. Tom Welton Speaking Tour 2017: Going for Gold – Just the Beginning

In January 2017 SAGE is pleased to sponsor the visit of Professor Tom Welton from Imperial College, London. Professor Welton will be presenting at SAGE member institutions throughout Australia on his experience with Athena SWAN in the UK.

The Imperial College, Department of Chemistry was awarded a Gold Athena SWAN award for good practice in supporting academic women in September 2013.  Chemistry was the first Department at Imperial to receive a Gold award and was one of the first four university departments across the UK to win an Athena SWAN Gold Award.

Tom Welton will discuss the work done in the Chemistry Department at Imperial College on valuing diversity and enabling all of the department’s members to reach their full potential, regardless of who they are. He will ask the audience to be actively involved in the discussion, to bring their own experiences and ideas and to steer the conversation into the areas that are most important to them.

Friday 13 January Melbourne
Monday 16 January Perth
Tuesday 17 January Adelaide
Wednesday 18 January Sydney
Thursday 19 January Brisbane
Friday 20 January Canberra

SAGE welcomes new team member Telitha Schroedl

telitha2Joining SAGE as the engagement and secretariat officer, Telitha Schroedl brings her expertise in stakeholder engagement and executive support. Telitha has a BA from the Australia National University and was the recipient of the Anthony Forge academic prize for Anthropology in 2010. Her knowledge of anthropology, psychology and gender studies gives Telitha a unique perspective on social issues. With a passion for gender equality and diversity, Telitha is excited to contribute to improving gender equity in science on a national scale.

Prior to her commencement with SAGE, Telitha was an executive officer at NICTA (Australia’s largest research centre dedicated to ICT) as well as the coordinator of NICTA’s ehealth living laboratory. Telitha has also worked for organisations such as the Australian National University and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

SAGE going forward

sage-115As we move into our second year of the Pilot with a newly appointed Expert Advisory Group and senior leadership team, our priorities and commitment to the 40 charter member institutes will be centred on the following four dimensions of support:

A. Enabling members to fulfil their commitment to the ten Charter principles by facilitating access to the UK Equality Challenge Unit’s resources and by developing guidelines, processes and best practices in consultation with the member institutions.

B. Encourage charter members to build institutional capabilities.  SAGE is developing engagement activities including national site visits and workshops led by leaders from the Australian sector with experience in Athena Swan; opportunities to workshop data analysis, issues identification and action planning; potential international visits from UK academics and researchers to share experience in Athena Swan; exploring networking opportunities with UK institutes experienced with Athena Swan; and other activities to be identified in consultation with the pilot charter members.

C. Shaping the future accreditation framework and model. We will do this by setting transparent and consultative processes and practices.  In addition to working closely with the SAGE Expert Advisory Group, we will seek input and feedback from our charter members. Establishment of the Panel of Assessors and resources is one such priority to be progressed over the coming months.

D. Evaluate our approach, practice and implementation of the pilot. We will commission an independent evaluation so as to ensure that we continue to deliver effective and efficient service to all SAGE members, funders, partners and stakeholders over the course of SAGE implementation and into the long term to support members on their journey to transformative change.

What are our next steps?

  • We will continue SAGE institutional visits to charter members throughout October, whilst also participating in the SAGE regional networks.
  • New recruits will join the SAGE team by early November 2016, ensuring enhanced capacity to support members and stakeholders.
  • We are putting together a sub-group of the Expert Advisory Group to advise on data to guide benchmarking, which has Prof. Sharon Bell and Dr. Roslyn Princely as members.  We welcome emailed nominations from all SAGE charter members to contribute to the work on data to guide benchmarking.
  • Planning and preparation for the Panel of Assessors has commenced; draft guidance and process documents will be shared for consultation.
  • The SAGE evaluation framework is currently being scoped with the view to release a request for tender to undertake an independent evaluation of the Pilot.  The draft scope will also be shared with members for consultation prior to going to market.

Dr Saraid Billiards, Head of Strategy & Engagement

We welcome Dr Saraid saraid-cropBilliards to the SAGE team in the role of Head of Strategy & Engagement. Prior to her secondment to SAGE, Saraid was the Director of the Research Grants team at the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). She was responsible for managing and delivering several funding schemes including Project Grants, Development Grants, Targeted Calls for Research and International Collaborations with an annual budget of approximately $500 million. Saraid is also responsible for NHMRC’s Women in Health Science Committee – established to identify barriers and enablers to the progression and retention of women in health and medical research.

Saraid has a PhD in neurophysiology from Monash University.  After completing her PhD in 2003, Saraid worked for five years in the Department of Neuropathology at Harvard Medical School focusing on the underlying neuropathology of perinatal brain injury with particular focus on cerebral palsy and stillbirth.  Upon her return to Australia, Saraid continued her research at Melbourne University before taking up a position at NHMRC.

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.


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

Eight New Institutions Join the SAGE Pilot of the Athena SWAN Charter

Eight New Institutions Join the SAGE Pilot of the Athena SWAN Charter


Eight new institutions were welcomed into the SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN at the SAGE Symposium in Sydney, on 24 June 2016. They joined the 32 existing Athena SWAN Charter Members in Australia.

The eight new institutions are:

  • Australian Astronomical Observatory
  • Bond University
  • Burnet Institute
  • Defence Science and Technology Group
  • Federation University Australia
  • James Cook University
  • Macquarie University
  • University of the Sunshine Coast

This brings the total number of organisation participating in the SAGE Pilot to 40 institutions which includes 30 universities; six medical research institutes and four publicly funded research agencies.

In joining the Pilot, each institution has declared their commitment to the 10 Principles of the Athena SWAN Charter. The Vice Chancellor or Director of each institution has undertaken a commitment to support and resource their respective institutes to lead an evidence-based evaluation of policy, practices and cultural change to drive gender equity and diversity.