Creating more gender equitable and inclusive cultures is high on the agenda for many organisations. However there is often a disconnect between existing staff development activities and efforts to create the desired cultures. More explicitly linking individual development to organisational change can make a big difference to the return on investment when developing staff. The ‘bifocal approach’ translates this ideal into reality through clear principles and program design.

Post bronze blues? What follows Athena SWAN bronze award success?

Following hard on the heels of the relief of completion and celebration of success, comes the realities of implementation and still more hard work. Addressing longstanding gender inequality will require new and novel approaches, the application process itself has intentionally pushed institutions into uncharted territory, and concerns flagged in the SAGE evaluation conducted by ACER during the pilot program will have implications for the implementation phase. What institutions do now to ensure appropriate governance will be critical to successful implementation and future award success

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Sponsorship: An equity and diversity game changer?

I am very proud to announce my long awaited report Sponsorship: Creating Career Opportunities for Women in Higher Educationis now available here for free download. This sponsorship guide is a practical publication, based on research examining sponsorship practices and my decades of experience with mentoring and leadership programs within the higher education sector. 

I believe sponsorship can be an equity and diversity game-changer. Read on for an overview of why.

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We need to interrogate merit

Merit, and the idea that we can accurately assess merit, is situated at the heart of academia. The need to preserve merit and a presumed meritocracy is one of the first arguments to be put forward to counter more ambitious gender change initiatives. But what does merit mean?  Can we assume that the current system is meritocratic and therefore worth protecting? And can we achieve the desired transformation of institutional culture without a frank re-assessment of merit?

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Imperial College: A courageous look at institutional culture

The impetus for this frank and fearless examination of Imperial College culture was a result of what James Stirling described as ‘laddish, blokeish, stupid misogynistic behaviour’ by male Imperial students at a women’s rugby match. As he describes, ‘we thought it was about sexism among students’ but it turned out to be much more than that.

Much of what is written in the report will ring true for Institutions that, like Imperial, pride themselves on their excellence. The key finding of the research is that ‘how we drive for excellence has unintended negative consequences’.

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Gender Equality in Australian Higher Education: A Frame for Athena SWAN

The gender equality landscape in Australian higher education has entered a period of renewal and change, with unprecedented levels of activity, resourcing and profile. This renewed vigour is largely driven by the SAGE pilot implementation of the Athena SWAN accreditation process, based on the UK model. However while Athena SWAN is currently the approach of choice in Australian HE, this does not preclude drawing on existing strengths and looking elsewhere for inspiration.

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Only women need apply

Women only appointments signal strong support for building gender equitable workplaces. But what are the pro's and cons?  Several universities advertised women only academic positions in 2016, perhaps with more to follow. I suggest that there are some lessons to be learnt from the affirmative action appointments of the 1990's and ways of proactively working with the inevitable backlash.  

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Catalysts and advocates for gender change

This blog explores two Initiatives, Athena SWAN Advocate (ASA) and Catalysts for Change (C4C), designed to enable men and women at multiple levels of the organisation to be visible and active in their support for gender change. Not only is it common sense, it is also supported by the research.

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Envisaging a more gender equitable workplace; #TomWeltonTour

Tom Welton’s tour has been enthusiastically received by a higher education and research sector keen to learn from a Department and Institution well progressed on the Athena SWAN pathway. Institutions looking at the year ahead, which for many will involve data collection and analysis, compiling action plans and finalising institutional applications, are keen to receive guidance. We are so keenly tweeting the received wisdom that Tom’s tour has been trending in the top ten twitter hashtags in Australia this week (go Sydney!).

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