Gender equity is everyone’s responsibility. To design and carry out successful initiatives, all sorts of skills are needed – everything from data collection and analysis, project management, communications, everyday championing and more. No matter your background or role in an organisation, there’s surely something valuable you can contribute.

In It Takes A Village, we shine a spotlight on individuals who have used their talents to support Athena Swan at their institution. We hope it’ll inspire you to think about the ways you and your colleagues can do the same.

Data – quantitative and qualitative – are crucial to the Athena Swan self-assessment process. To identify their strengths and areas for improvement in gender equity, institutions need to collect and carefully analyse data on their culture and practices.

Social work lecturer Dr Ines Zuchowski led the qualitative research arm of the self-assessment team at James Cook University (JCU). Using a feminist and critical lens, they studied the lived experiences of women employees to explore how gender was relevant to their employment and processes such as retention, promotion and recruitment.

They chose to conduct in-depth qualitative research because the resulting stories and experiences help bring the quantitative data to life. This in turn helped the self-assessment team to make connections, draw conclusions and recommend actions.

The qualitative research team included five researchers from HASS and STEMM disciplines as well as a research project manager. Together, they collected qualitative data in three ways: six anonymous testimonials sought from all staff, nine focus groups with women and nine in-depth interviews with senior staff. This three-pronged approach helped them engage many women and men.

Involving the JCU community enabled them to collectively explore issues in safe spaces. This exploration led to the identification of gender inequities at systems levels and corresponding solutions, such as collective action.

Photograph of five women standing next to a banner that reads
Dr Ines Zuchowski (far right) with members of the James Cook University self-assessment team, including others from the qualitative research team.