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Gender equity

Our commitment to gender equity in education

We stand firm in our commitment to advancing gender equity, promoting women in leadership and furthering women’s education.

In 1881 we became one of the first universities in the world to admit female students.

By 1990 — just over a century after the first woman graduated — women students outnumbered men for the first time in our history, with 15,000 women enrolled in a student body of 26,000.

Last year we celebrated another crucial gender equality milestone, with the number of our female professors reaching 31 percent, just over a year into a formal program designed to increase the number of women in senior positions. 

These stories highlight our rich history – built on a foundation of inclusion – and our commitment to opening the doors to everyone to flourish in their educational pursuits.

SAGE program kicks off

As part of the University’s aim to promote gender equity in education we’re participating in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot program, which promotes gender equity and diversity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).

A pilot of the successful UK-based Athena SWAN program established in 2005, the Australian program is a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

It assesses gender equality policies and practices and helps organisations establish ways to promote and retain women and gender minorities in their ranks.

Associate Professor Renae Ryan from the Sydney Medicial School (Pharmacology) has been appointed as the Academic Director of SAGE.

The program achieves its goals through an evaluation and accreditation framework carried out by dedicated members of the Self Assessment Team and support staff.

Participants in the program collect, analyse and present data on gender equity policies and practices in STEMM departments, and identify gaps or areas in need of improvement.

A Self Assessment Team, formed from staff and students, is responsible for a number of areas including:

  • application preparation for the SAGE/Athena SWAN institutional Bronze Award due in January 2019
  • collecting, analysing and interrogating gender data across STEMM faculties
  • developing action plans to address identified issues.

The Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot program is one of a number of initiatives implemented as part of the University's Women's Career Acceleration and Leadership Strategy that was developed to meet the 2020 diversity and inclusion goals outlined in the University's Strategic Plan.

SAGE Self-Assessment Team


Professor Trevor Hambley, Dean - Faculty of Science

Associate Professor Renae Ryan, Associate Professor - Sydney Medical School (Pharmacology)

Professor Tim Bedding, Head of School - Faculty of Science (Physics)

Dr Kim Bell-Anderson, Senior Lecturer - Faculty of Science (SOLES)

Professor Kathy Belov, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Global Engagement) - Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

Associate Professor Kirsten Black, Associate Professor/Joint Head of Discipline - Sydney Medical School (Obstetrics and Gynaecology)

Associate Professor Densil Cabrera, Senior Lecturer - School of Architecture, Design & Planning

Dr Elizabeth Clarke, Senior Lecturer (P/T) - Sydney Medical School (Northern Medical School)

Dr Kumi de Silva, Research Fellow (P/T) - Sydney School of Veterinary Science

Professor Alan Fekete, Professor - Faculty of Engineering & IT

Associate Professor Murray Fisher, Associate Professor and Acting Associate Dean (Research) - Sydney Nursing School.

Professor David Guest, Professor - Institute of Agriculture 

Associate Professor Muireann Irish, Associate Professor - School of Psychology

Dr Maree Milross, Lecturer (P/T) - Faculty of Health Sciences (Physiotherapy)

Dr Rachael Morton, NHMRC Early Career Fellow - Sydney Medical School (Public Health)

Associate Professor Joel Negin, Head of School - Sydney Medical School (Public Health)

Julia Newton, Head of Faculty Marketing & Communications - Marketing and Communications

Associate Professor Ky-Anh Nguyen, Associate Professor - Faculty of Dentistry (Westmead Oral Health)

Emeritus Professor Robyn Overall, Chair Women in Science - Faculty of Science (SOLES)

Dr Matt Pye, Associate Lecturer - Faculty of Science (SOLES)

Professor Jacqui Ramagge, Head of School - Faculty of Science (Mathematics & Statistics) 

Professor Deborah Schofield, Chair and Professor of Health Economics - Faculty of Pharmacy

Dr Ben Thornber, Senior Lecturer - Faculty of Engineering & IT (Aeronautical)

Dr Michelle Villeneuve, Senior Lecturer - Faculty of Health Sciences (Occupational Therapy)

Women at Sydney

Share. Connect. Change.

We’re committed to equal representation and opportunity for all, and we encourage women to aspire to senior leadership roles at all levels of our community.

In 2015, we started to implement our Women’s Career Acceleration and Leadership Strategy. The strategy is designed to accelerate representation of women at all levels and addresses several key areas:

  • developing the capability of our leaders to lead inclusively
  • setting female representation targets, and implementing and building strategies at local levels
  • providing career support and flexible career pathways
  • investigating pay equity
  • consistently implementing and managing flexible working arrangements.

We also hold an annual symposium – Women at Sydney: share, connect, change. Each year the symposium agenda includes inspiring talks, panel discussions and thought-provoking content presented by leaders from across the University to showcase, support and empower career success for women.