Edith Cowan University (ECU) received their second Cygnet Award, this time for their work on retaining and progressing women in STEMM.

SAGE CEO, Dr Janin Bredehoeft, was pleased to see the growing number of awards – a good sign that organisations were actively implementing and evaluating actions.

“Every week, I talk to people who want to create workplaces where everyone belongs and the first thing they ask is ‘What works and what doesn’t?’ The more Cygnet Award applications we get, the more evidence we’ll have to answer that question.

“Developing a plan to fix systemic problems is the first step, but executing those plans and measuring if they’ve achieved what they set out to do is often the hardest part of this work. It can also be the least celebrated, even though it’s the most crucial.

“According to a recent review by the Office of the Women in STEM Ambassador, the strongest evaluations tracked long-term outcomes of an initiative beyond personal satisfaction of the participants. The evaluations reported in Cygnet Award applications will help us identify more rigorous measures for outcomes and impact.

“I’d also like to thank our panel chairs and reviewers for volunteering their time and expertise to assess the Cygnet Award applications.

“Through this process, we get to see evidence of good practice across the sector. As an added bonus, organisations also receive valuable feedback from reviewers to help them refine their initiatives and evaluation methods.”

After introducing initiatives such as promotion support sessions, always-on recruitment and additional funding to support working parents, ECU observed a small-scale increase in the number of women in STEMM at the university.

Their evaluation also indicated that actions to support women’s career advancement may need to be tailored to each school – a learning that will be useful for their future work.

Professor Cobie Rudd, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Regional Futures) at ECU, said she was excited to continue addressing inequalities as part of ECU’s next Cygnet Awards.

“For us, it’s not about promoting the areas where we’re already doing well. In the spirit of Athena Swan, we focus on what we know are the problems and why. Some of our strategies might not work, but we will always keep trying to find solutions that will redress the imbalance,” said Professor Rudd.

Read more about ECU’s work in their Cygnet Award application, now available on the SAGE website.