Edith Cowan University has again been recognised as a national leader in gender equity, diversity and inclusion, after earning two new prestigious SAGE Cygnet Awards. The Awards recognise their work to improve gender balance in the professorial research cohort and increase cultural and linguistic diversity in senior levels of the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

This brings ECU’s total number of Cygnet Awards to five – the highest number available. They are the first institution in WA to reach this milestone. ECU was also the first institution in Australia to achieve a Cygnet Award on 4 August 2022.

The University is now eligible to apply for the next level of accreditation under the internationally recognised Athena Swan framework, administered by Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE).  Each award in the framework is granted after strict peer review, where progress and impact are assessed and validated.

The University’s Athena Swan Lead, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Cobie Rudd, said she was pleased ECU starts 2024 on track to achieve Silver accreditation.

“We have been working towards becoming a better institution for our staff, current and future students and industry partners through delivering a diverse and inclusive workforce and environment.

“We were proud to be among the first 15 Australian institutions to receive the Bronze Award in 2018 under the Athena Swan Charter. And as we keep our aim on achieving Silver accreditation, we hope this latest recognition demonstrates that our commitment to gender equity is making a difference in respect to removing barriers and helping underrepresented groups to attain their goals”.

SAGE Chair Libby Lyons congratulated the University on reaching this milestone.

“It’s fabulous to see Edith Cowan University leading the way towards gender equity in WA,” said Ms Lyons. “These five Cygnet Awards recognise the strength of commitment and energy that ECU’s leadership has shown throughout their journey with SAGE.”

“I have no doubt they will continue to pursue a very high standard of workplace equity, diversity and inclusion, and an environment where everyone can thrive.”

The University has been recognised for initiatives to:

  1. Progress Flexible Working Arrangements
  2. Redress inadequate support systems inhibiting the promotion of women in STEM(M)
  3. Decrease gender disparity in the School of Engineering
  4. Improve gender balance in professorial research roles at ECU
  5. Increase diversity in the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Professor Rudd said, “We’ve been actively identifying, removing or reducing the attitudinal, behavioural, structural, systemic and cultural barriers that impede the attraction, retention and progression of staff and students who face inequities since we began the Athena Swan journey.”

“We’re learning more about what does and doesn’t work, each day; what we have done to date will guide what we do going forward”.

All of the University’s SAGE Cygnet Award applications, detailing ECU’s actions, outcomes and impacts, is available on the SAGE website.

About the SAGE Cygnet Awards

SAGE Cygnet Awards are earned by organisations that demonstrate they have made sufficient progress and impact in removing or reducing a key barrier to gender equity.

Once an organisation has successfully achieved five SAGE Cygnet Awards, they are eligible to apply for an Athena Swan Silver Award – an award that recognises and rewards progressing organisational maturity in gender equity, diversity and inclusion.

Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) is the only organisation in Australia that administers the internationally recognised Athena Swan accreditation framework for gender equity, diversity and inclusion.