Professor Brian Schmidt AC FAA FRS, Vice-Chancellor, Australian National University, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and Nobel Laureate Professor Schmidt served as SAGE Founding Co-Chair (alongside Professor Joshi) from 2014 to 2015. In this interview, Professor Schmidt talks about his commitment to gender equity in science and academia and why it is both personally and professionally important to him. Read more
Renowned ABC show Q&A put politics aside for a wonderful and well-received episode on science, with three women in STEMM taking centre stage: Professor Emma Johnston (marine ecologist and presenter of Coast Australia); Dr Tamara Davis (dark matter and energy cosmologist); and Upulie Divisekera (molecular biologist and co-founder of Real Science). They were joined by Dr Alan Finkel (Australia’s chief scientist and former President of ATSE) and Professor Brian Greene (world renowned physicist and string theorist).
One audience member asked the panel to comment on the dominance of men in science careers post-PhD and whether there is “something that females find abhorrent in the current scientific review process.” Divisekera notes that women make up around 50% of undergraduate students in STEMM, but the gender breakdown comes down to 17% at senior roles due to subtle biases experienced throughout scientific careers.
Professor Johnston similarly references that she is one among the 17% of women STEMM professors in Australia; a fact that has remained largely unchanged for over five decades, with some science areas being worse off in recent years. Professor Johnston discusses SAGE as one solution, specifically referencing the partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering in addressing structural and cultural problems in science institutions that affect gender equity and other forms of diversity.
Professor Caroline McMillen is the University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor and President and a Member of the SAGE Steering Committee
In this video, Professor Caroline McMillen talks about the importance of the program from the perspective of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, one of 32 institutions participating in the SAGE Pilot. Professor McMillen says:
I came into my science career some 30 years ago and it was very clear, as a young scientist, that the problems of gender discrimination, of issues of equity and women’s careers were really off the path. What I have found, 30 years later, is that the problem has not been solved. It’s not a pipeline problem – it’s a systems problem.
Professor Douglas Hilton, FAA, FTSE, FAHMS is Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) and a member of the SAGE Steering Committee.
Professor Doug Hilton is excited about the SAGE Pilot of Athena Swan because it presents an opportunity for the research and science sector to address the problem of gender equity in a collaborative manner. Doug feels that too often the solutions to gender equity occur in single institutions. With the SAGE Pilot, institutions can learn from each other, while also drawing on a national framework to collectively address the problem of gender equity.
In this interview, Doug talks about his concerns that gender inequity leads to a waste of productivity and training within the science sector.
Doug says that while women are often well represented in PhD studies and postdoctoral roles in many STEMM fields, women nevertheless tend to drop out of the system at the leadership level. Doug says that striving to keep the best scientists in the country in senior roles increases the opportunity to make important scientific discoveries.
If we disenfranchise half of our population, then I think we live in a society that’s not as decent as it should be.
In September 2015, the SAGE Pilot was launched in Parliament House, Canberra. The event was attended by Ministers, representatives from research funding and policy sectors, and representatives from the 32 universities and research institutions participating in the SAGE Pilot. The event included a panel discussion on why Australia needs women in science leadership. Below is a transcript of the discussion and audience questions.
Professor Nalini Joshi FAA FRSN, SAGE Committee Co-Chair, University of Sydney, Former Australian Academy Council Member and Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellow
Dr Maggie Evans-Galea, SAGE Committee Member, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Co-Founder Women in Science Australia
Professor Sharon Bell, SAGE Committee Member, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Charles Darwin University
Ms Lyndal Curtis, Canberra Bureau Chief, Sky News Read more
On the 15 September 2015, the SAGE Pilot was officially launched at Parliament House. The event was attended by Ministers, funding and policy stakeholders, and representatives from the 32 institutions who are participating in the Pilot. This video provides highlights of the event, where leaders discuss the importance of the SAGE Pilot in transforming gender equity and diversity in Australian science.
The video features Ministers who convene the Parliamentary Friends of Science and Parliamentary Friends of Women in Science, Mathematics and Engineering, who hosted our event. The video also includes interviews with members of the SAGE Steering Committee who explain the benefits of improving equity and diversity.