Ms Lyons made the call as she begins her role as Chair of SAGE Ltd on 30 September. The independent entity was established following the success of the Australian pilot of the Athena Swan Charter, which saw 45 institutions sign up to eliminate gender bias, including 87% of Australia’s universities.
Ms Lyons, who is also the Director of the federal government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, said despite the economic recession and the hardships many institutions are currently facing, now is not the time to abandon investment in gender equity and diversity.
“SAGE is all about boosting women’s leadership roles in the higher education and research (HER) sector.
“The BCEC 2020 Gender Equity Insights report found company profitability, performance and productivity improve when the representation of women in leadership roles increases. The HER sector must lead the way on this issue. As education and research institutions, they know that Australian and international research proves that improving gender equality outcomes is good for business.
“If HER institutions stay the course on gender equality and diversity, there are not only financial benefits for individual institutions but a real likelihood that our country will claw its way out of recession and recover more quickly. As a nation, we cannot afford to see a reversal of the hard-won gains by women in the HER sector, particularly when they are one of the groups most impacted by this pandemic.
“Those institutions who have already pledged to preserve gender equity as a higher education priority during the crisis and recovery period must be congratulated for their leadership and ongoing commitment.
“I am honoured to be taking on this new role and look forward to working with the Board, CEO and SAGE subscribers as we begin our national rollout,” said Ms Lyons.
Watch Ms Lyons deliver her first address as SAGE Ltd Chair: