Over the past four years, RMIT redesigned their recruitment lifecycle to ensure a fair, inclusive experience for women and gender diverse candidates, and their efforts have paid off.

RMIT’s STEM College now has 50% women in the Executive Leadership Group compared to 100% men in 2019. Compared to the 2015–2017 period, marked improvements were seen across 2018–2021. On average, 19% more women applied for STEMM roles, and 36% more women were appointed. The number of women appointed to senior-level STEMM roles rose by 60%.

RMIT’s success comes from a suite of actions aimed at reducing bias and promoting inclusivity. This included screening job ads for inclusive language, requiring gender-balanced shortlists and selection panels, asking candidates for their pronouns in application forms, and becoming an Endorsed Employer on LGBTI Jobs.

To get a better measure of a person’s capabilities, particularly people with non-traditional career paths or who have experienced career interruptions (for example due to illness, insecure employment or caring responsibilities), RMIT introduced ‘Achievement Relative to Opportunity (ARtO)‘ to assess candidates for academic jobs. ARtO focuses on the overall quality and impact of their work, rather than the quantity or rate at which it was produced.

“The evidence from RMIT shows that we can increase diversity in STEMM by taking a systemic change approach to recruitment. It’s a timely reminder, in light of the Government’s upcoming Diversity in STEM review,” said SAGE CEO Dr Janin Bredehoeft.

“SAGE awards encourage organisations to evaluate and showcase their gender equity and diversity outcomes, which in turn helps others invest in actions that work. I’m very pleased to present RMIT with their first Cygnet Award – congratulations to the team on their phenomenal work.”

The Cygnet Awards recognise organisations’ progress, outcomes and impact in addressing a key barrier to gender equity, diversity and inclusion and are a step towards an Athena Swan Silver Award.

RMIT Dean of STEMM Diversity and Inclusion Professor Kay Latham welcomed the recognition of the University’s progress.

“We are delighted to have achieved our first Cygnet Award, for RMIT to be recognised for its tireless commitment to gender equality and for achieving such growth in the representation of women in STEMM at the University. We are one step closer to Silver!” said Professor Latham.

“The Award reaffirms that we are on the right path, that we continue our commitment as an inclusive, values-led employer through inclusive hiring practices, together with strategies to build and support the development of our current employees.”

RMIT University’s Cygnet Award application can be found on the SAGE website.


Media contact

Madi Holloway | madi@fiftyacres.com | 0413 386 314

Available for interview

  • Dr Janin Bredehoeft, Chief Executive Officer, Science in Australia Gender Equity
  • Professor Kay Latham, Dean – STEMM Diversity & Inclusion, RMIT University