Athena SWAN outcome nears

Flinders will soon learn whether more than two years of committed action on diversity and gender equity will result in the University achieving Bronze accreditation under the Athena SWAN initiative.

Established in the UK in 2005 and named for Athena, the goddess of Wisdom, and SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network), the initiative requires institutions to demonstrate commitment to advancement of equality and diversity in order to qualify for bronze, silver or gold awards. SAGE (Science in Australia Gender Equity) is piloting the Athena Swan framework in Australia, and Flinders is part of a second cohort of institutions applying for bronze accreditation.

In September 2016 Flinders embarked upon its Athena SWAN project in its quest for bronze accreditation, and in a little over a month will submit its application.

“It’s an immensely rigorous process that demands we analyse our performance across areas such as gender diversity in our workforce, promotions, leadership opportunities and training, parenting support and leave, Indigenous employment, disability support, cultural and linguistic diversity, student diversity and more” Director of People and Culture Steve Barrett says.

“Data has been gathered from across the University, from our employment records, research publications and grants, and equity initiatives, to our student enrolments system, focus group sessions and surveys.

“Between them, the Academic and Professional staff who make up our Governance Group, working party and Self-Assessment Team have cast a critical eye across what we’ve achieved, where we have gaps, and mapped out a plan for  ongoing improvements,” Mr Barrett, who’s a Governance Group member, says.

“With Athena SWAN accreditation, a requirement for institutions applying for UK national health research funding – and the prospect of a similar research funding requirement in Australia –  we need to be proactive and accountable.

“But even setting aside the potential regulatory implications, it simply makes sense for Flinders to invest in being an equitable, fair, harmonious and positive institution. It is fundamental to our core values, and central to ensuring our campuses are inclusive, culturally healthy places in which to learn, work and socialise.

“The outcome of the accreditation is far from guaranteed, but whatever the outcome, Flinders is committed to the ten-point Athena SWAN charter, and to implementing the 4-year action plan that has been developed as part of the Flinders Athena SWAN project. We are committed to equity and equality being an intrinsic part of the fabric of the University, and part of our daily lived experience” Mr Barrett says.

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