Catalysing Gender Equity 2020 logo with the tagline “Be part of the solution”.

Catalysing Gender Equity was held on 20 and 21 February in Adelaide. At the conference, SAGE and our regional networks presented workshops focusing on persistent challenges related to inclusion and diversity in STEMM.

A woman delivering a presentation. SAGE Executive Director, Dr Wafa El-Adhami, speaking at the Exploring Departmental Awards workshop.

Exploring Departmental Awards for SAGE

The SAGE community has been highly engaged in the Athena Swan Bronze accreditation program, with 39 institutions receiving accreditation so far.

As SAGE subscribers will be aware, SAGE convened a workshop to explore awards pathways at CGE2020. This workshop consolidated key suggestions to determine the SAGE approach to awards pathways.

Near the front of a room, seven people (one speaking into a microphone) sit in a row of chairs. Behind them, a projector screen shows a list of vignettes/scenarios: women-only events, recruitment, part-time work, manager engagement, academic promotion, gender pay gap, affirmative action. Members of the SAGE WA Regional Network present at the ‘Shifting the spectrum of male engagement with gender equity’ workshop.

Shifting the spectrum of male engagement with gender equity (WA)

The SAGE Western Australian Regional Network developed this workshop to increase the engagement of a minority of men (and women) resistant or less engaged with gender equity initiatives.

Group discussion focussed on specific scenarios (vignettes) that came from the direct experience of the regional network members, such as responses to affirmative recruitment action and women only events.

Two groups of about nine people each sit in circles, engaged in rapt discussion. Group discussions at the SAGE WA Regional Network workshop.

The session provided eye-opening new perspectives and will serve as a resource to assist people responding to similar situations. As one participant commented, “the gender equity journey is not just a women’s journey—everybody needs to be onboard.”

Based on the presentations and group discussions, the WA Regional Network have developed If This, Then That – a set of rehearsal narratives to guide staff in responding to challenging situations about gender equity. The Network is happy to take further submissions for the resource, such as suggestions for other scenarios.

Achieving gender equity targets through systemic change (NSW)

Implementation of equity strategies was the focus of SAGE New South Wales Regional Network’s workshop. The experience-driven, collaborative discussion identified key strategies for facilitating the effective implementation of gender equity targets in STEMM, focusing on the relationship between central goals and local actions.

This workshop built upon findings from the ‘Strategies for Success’ Symposium held at UTS in July 2019. Collaborators from the NSW Regional Network, including Western Sydney University and Macquarie University, also shared their practical experiences, which include increases in female applicants in STEMM by using gender neutral language in recruitment. They also discussed challenges such as setting targets for intersectionality/diversity KPIs and the complexity involved in taking an university-wide approach across different sectors.

Discussion groups focused on connecting the global and local; discussing the merit principle; recruitment changes, retention, promotion and succession planning; monitoring and evaluation; and building capacity for cultural change.

Workshop attendees identified opportunities for future collaboration across networks and between higher education institutions and industry. Attendees also identified the need for more self-reporting and data-sharing.

Thirteen people stand in roughly concentric circles, facing a woman in the centre who is speaking. There are large gaps of up to a meter between some of the people, so the group occupies almost the entire width of the room. Attendees taking part in an Intersectionality Walk at the SAGE ACT Regional Network workshop.

Walking in the shoes of others (ACT)

The SAGE ACT Regional Network addressed the important issue of intersectionality in this workshop. The workshop provided participants with the opportunity to actively contribute to understanding and educating others on why intersectionality is important for innovative organisations.

Attendees took part in an Intersectionality Walk: scenarios where they took on different personas to step into the shoes of others. One attendee commented on the power of the “whole body experience of the role play”, while another said that the activity provided “a visual shock of what exclusion or leaving people behind looks like”.

This was followed by a plenary discussion which provided cross-institutional opportunities for collaborative research recommendations. Participants discussed the need for data-driven actions, compounded by the challenge of gathering data on diversity in a secure manner.

As a result of the workshop, 29 organisations signed on to be involved in the research led by Professor Thomas and Dr MacMillan and all participants requested Intersectionality Walk resources for implementation in their own organisations. Their work has been published in the paper ‘Seeing and overcoming the complexities of intersectionality’.