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University Chancellor and senior academic named among Australia's most influential women

18 Oct 2013

University of Sydney Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson and Professor of Employment Relations Marian Baird were last night named among Australia's most influential women, winning their categories in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac Group 100 Women of Influence awards.

The awards, selected by an eminent judging panel from more than 500 entrants, recognise the depth of female leadership talent across Australia in 10 categories: Board/Management, Innovation, Public Policy, Business Entrepreneur, Diversity, Young Leader, Global, Social Enterprise, Not-for-profit/Philanthropy and Local/Regional.

Ms Hutchinson was named the most influential woman in the Board/Management category, while Professor Baird won in the Public Policy category.

The awards were announced by Westpac Chief Executive Gail Kelly and Fairfax Media Chief Greg Hywood at a gala dinner in Sydney.

Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney said the recognition of two members of the University community was a significant honour.

"We're delighted that the panel has acknowledged these two brilliant women from the University of Sydney, and I congratulate them on the well-deserved recognition of their leadership in the wider community."

The Australian Financial Review described Ms Hutchinson as one of Australia's leading women in business.

"Her role as chairman of insurer QBE makes Hutchinson arguably the most successful female boardroom operator in Australia," the paper said.

"She is one of only a few females chairing one of the ASX's top 20 companies, overseeing a company that operates in 46 countries with more than 75 per cent of its business overseas."

A graduate of the University of Sydney, Ms Hutchinson was appointed the 18th Chancellor of the University of Sydney in February 2013. Along with chairing QBE Insurance Group, she is a director of St Vincent's Health Australia, AGL Energy, the Salvation Army Eastern Territory Advisory Board, Australian Philanthropic Services, NSW State Library Foundation, and a member of the Federal Government Financial Services Advisory Council. She is also the President of Chief Executive Women, a member-based organisation comprising of 240 of Australia's women leaders.

Ms Hutchinson holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney and was a recipient of a University Alumni Award in 2012.

Professor Marian Baird, Professor of Employment Relations, Acting Chair of the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies and Director of the Women and Work Research Group at the University of Sydney Business School, was recognised in the Public Policy category as one of Australia's leading voices in the fields of women, work and family.

"If you are enjoying some paid time off after you have a child, thank Baird," the Australian Financial Review reported.

"She has been described as the 'intellectual firepower' behind the campaign that resulted in the creation of the national paid scheme in 2011 and encouraged Prime Minister Tony Abbott to offer his own scheme."

Professor Baird decided to pursue extensive research in the fields of women, work and family after having been frustrated by her personal experience of losing entitlements every time she shifted jobs to follow her husband or care for her children.

Since then, she has received a number of Australian Research Council and federal and state government grants to study maternity and parental leave, flexibility for working parents, women and the global financial crisis, mature age workers and low paid workers, gender equitable organisational change and work and family in regional Australia. She is widely published in Australia and internationally.

"The University of Sydney Business School is delighted to see Professor Baird's work acknowledged in this way," said Co-Dean Professor David Grant.

"Professor Baird has made a significant contribution to public policy in a way that has greatly improved the work and home life of many thousands of Australian women and their family members."