The Australian Academy of Science has applauded the announcement by the Morrison Government to invest $3.4 million to improve science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) equity in Australia and boost the participation of girls and women in STEM careers.
Academy President Professor John Shine said the $1.8 million commitment to extend the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE)—a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering—was particularly significant.
“SAGE is the only transformative gender equity program of its kind in Australia designed to achieve sustained change via ongoing evaluation and a national accreditation framework,” Professor Shine said.
SAGE was set up to pilot the UK’s Athena SWAN Charter and accreditation framework in Australia. Fifteen Australian institutions were recognised for their efforts to improve gender equity, receiving the inaugural Athena SWAN Bronze Awards from SAGE in December last year.
“Australia has taken a leadership role by piloting the Athena SWAN Charter program, with countries such as Canada and the United States now following our example,” Professor Shine said.
The Australian Government’s continued support of the SAGE pilot positions Australia well and represents a strategic and forward-thinking investment that will allow the successful pilot to have greater reach and impact.
“The Academy called for a stronger commitment to equity in science as one of its key priorities for the upcoming Federal election, recognising the positive and sustained impact of SAGE,” Professor Shine said.
“Minister Andrews’ bold vision to have all eligible Australian research institutions being SAGE members and demonstrating their commitment to gender equity is commendable and achievable.”
The Academy also welcomes funding for a national digital awareness raising initiative to be supported by Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith.
“Efforts to improve the visibility of girls and women in STEM and showcase the diverse career opportunities available by studying STEM are critically important,” Professor Shine said.
“In making these announcements, Minister Andrews has recognised that supporting women’s participation in STEM has a positive economic impact.”
“Australia needs access to all its available talent regardless of who or where they are, and we must ensure everyone takes action through the Women in STEM Decadal Plan,” Professor Shine said.
The plan was developed by the Academy of Science in partnership with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. It will be launched on Monday evening, 1 April at Parliament House by the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews.
It will identify opportunities to bring about the systemic changes required to achieve gender equity in STEM and will call on leaders across the STEM ecosystem to drive action to achieve this.