University’s family focus

Emily AceSouth Western Times
The ECU team accept their accreditation at the SAGE awards dinner event at Parliament House.
Camera IconThe ECU team accept their accreditation at the SAGE awards dinner event at Parliament House. Credit: Bradley Cummings

Establishing parenting rooms accredited with a 5-star rating by the Australian Breastfeeding Association, flexible child care arrangements, dedicated parking bays for staff on the school run and a career advancement scheme are just some of the new initiatives that have resulted in an Athena SWAN Bronze Award for Edith Cowan University.

The university is one of only 15 organisations in Australia to be honoured with the prestigious status.

The international accreditation program is managed by Science in Australia Gender Equality, which is piloting the Athena SWAN Charter in Australia.

ECU South West Bunbury campus dean Lyn Farrell travelled to Canberra last week to accept the award with her colleagues at Parliament House.

“It is all about trying to ensure people with family responsibilities can still progress in their career,” she said.

“It is not necessarily about just supporting women, it is also about supporting men if they choose to take on parenting and carer responsibilities.”

Ms Farrell said this stage of the process was about looking internally and recognising where the institution was in terms of gender equity and mapping out an action plan.

“What will happen now is different schools within the departments of the university will go individually for bronze and the university as a whole will go for silver,” she said.

“When you are a researcher, having breaks from your career can really put you behind in terms of academic promotion, so we are looking at ways women can still progress and reach the higher levels.

“We need to see more women professors, particularly in STEM subjects.”

Athena SWAN was launched in the United Kingdom in 2005 to advance the representation and progression of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine and has since been adopted in Ireland, Canada and the United States.

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