Geoscience Australia recognised for commitment to gender equity and diversity

21 February 2020

Steps taken by Geoscience Australia to eliminate gender bias and build an inclusive workplace culture have been recognised by the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative at a ceremony held last night at the Adelaide Town Hall.

Geoscience Australia joined 10 other institutions from the higher education and research sector to receive an Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award last night.

The Chief Executive Officer of Geoscience Australia, Dr James Johnson said applying for and attaining Bronze Accreditation was a sign that its four-year action plan to address gender inequity in its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines was heading in the right direction.

“Our application for Bronze Accreditation brought together two years’ worth of research conducted by our dedicated SAGE Self-Assessment team,” Dr Johnson said.

“The team undertook extensive staff consultation through workshops, focus groups, surveys, and brainstorming sessions, which resulted in more than 1300 comments and suggestions. This was refined to a final staff-driven list of 86 actions, which formed the foundation of our application for Bronze Accreditation submitted in July 2019.

“As scientists, evidence is at the core of what we do. What the evidence shows is that equitable workplaces benefit everyone.

“Joining SAGE and attaining Bronze Accreditation reflects our commitment to applying an evidence-based approach to eliminating gender bias and building an inclusive workplace culture.”

Australian Academy of Science Chief Executive, Anna-Maria Arabia said the SAGE initiative is the only transformative gender equity program of its kind in Australia designed to achieve sustained cultural change via a national accreditation framework.

“Initiatives such as Athena SWAN insist on hard data, which are crucial for credibility and accountability,” Ms Arabia said.

“The main impact of the SAGE pilot is that it has challenged members to critically assess the state of gender equity in their institution, and devise actions to address any systemic/cultural barriers they identify. These barriers are not broken down overnight, so we will begin to see these actions starting to really bear fruit in the years to come.”

Dr Johnson said attaining Bronze Accreditation will give Geoscience Australia a competitive advantage in attracting the excellent scientists needed to progress its national mandate into the future.

“We know that we cannot be an employer of choice without an inclusive workplace culture,” Dr Johnson said.

“Supported by our action plan, we are building a workforce that embraces diversity, is inclusive and supportive of all people, and encourages our staff to be their most creative selves.”

Dr Johnson said Geoscience Australia had already started to tick off items on its list of 86 actions.

“Last year, we launched our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2019-22. We also developed a leave policy that includes support for those experiencing domestic violence, and reviewed and updated all our human resources policies to ensure they are gender inclusive.

“Personally, I am proud to say that I have become a Male Champion of Change in STEM.”

Dr Johnson said he was pleased of what Geoscience Australia had already achieved and looked forward to the journey ahead.

“In June last year, we launched Strategy 2028, which solidified our commitment to achieving SAGE Silver Accreditation,” Dr Johnson said.

“We know that change does not happen overnight. We are committed to long-term transformation that builds an inclusive workplace culture, which advances the careers of women, trans and gender diverse people.”

Established in 2015, SAGE is a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.