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University reaches critical gender equality milestone

15 June 2016
Strategy to increase number of women in leadership achieving results

The University of Sydney now has 31 percent female professors, up from 28 percent, just over a year into a formal program designed to increase the number of women in senior positions. 

The rise reflects a significant increase in the rate of progress compared to growth of one percent per year between 2010 and 2015.

Implemented last year, the Women’s Career Acceleration and Leadership Strategy (WCALS) defines the University’s commitment to improving women’s representation in leadership roles and the various actions taken to achieve this.

The University’s research shows that at 54 percent, there are currently slightly more female academics than male at Level A, in entry level academic roles. However, women make up 38 percent of staff at the more senior Level D and 31 percent at the most senior Level E.

The University has announced a target of 45 percent women at Level D and 40 percent at Level E by 2020.

“We’ve been talking about gender equality for a long time, but these results demonstrate the impact of action over words,” the Vice-Chancellor, and Male Champion of Change, Michael Spence said.

With the programs of work already underway to improve gender balance, we are on track to meet our commitment to increasing the numbers of women in senior academic positions.
Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence

“I am so grateful that the University has embraced the goal of gender equality and is working with gusto to improve the University’s culture,” he added.

Strategic plan

A fundamental part of the University’s recently announced 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, WCALS includes a suite of initiatives – from diversity and inclusion training for senior leaders to equip them with the knowledge and tools necessary for driving cultural change, events such as Women At Sydney, workshops to help female staff prepare for promotion opportunities, a mentoring program and more.

Faculties and professional service units have also been given the task of developing action plans to address gender balance within local areas. Meeting these targets is now a key performance indicator for leaders and managers. 

The University’s new flagship researcher development program, the Sydney Research Accelerator SOAR fellowships, is another key initiative of the Strategic Plan. These fellowships are intended to help develop our researchers and create a cohort of future research leaders, and at least 50 percent of participants across all cohorts will be female.

The University is also taking part in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot program, and is currently seeking staff from all areas of the University to join the SAGE Self Assessment Team (SAT) that will drive the project across campus.

Celebrating firsts

Photo of Professor Anna Reid, Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Professor Anna Reid

The University celebrated several firsts this year, supporting its intention to achieve greater gender balance. Two faculties promoted their first ever female professorsProfessor Robyn McConchie in the Faculty of Agriculture and the Environment and Professor Elizabeth Martin in the Faculty of Dentistry. Professor Dianne Wiley also joined the University as the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering’s first female Head of School.

Last week, the University announced the appointment of Professor Anna Reid as the new Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

And on Monday, two University of Sydney female professors were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, receiving an Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia: Professor Marian Baird, Chair of the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies in the Business School and Professor of Gender and Employment Relations, and Professor Nalini Joshi, a Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellow and Chair of Applied Mathematics.