Many STEMM leaders have expressed a commitment to overcoming the gender inequality that stubbornly persists across the sector. But do they have the gender competency needed to drive change in their organisations?

Presenting their recently published findings, RMIT researchers Professor Kay Latham and Associate Professor Robyn Barnacle provide including much-needed insights into:

  • the gender competency of STEMM leaders to act as change agents: Do leaders understand the nature and scope of the problem, or are misapprehensions hampering their efforts?
  • what resistance to gender equality looks like in STEMM contexts: What is minimising the significance of the problem and reinforcing the status quo?

The research draws on a study of 20 prominent Australian STEMM leaders and their perceptions of gender inequality, sexual harassment, sex discrimination and gender bias in their organisations.

What supports are needed by leaders to achieve their gender equality commitments? Kay and Robyn make suggestions, including specific leadership programs, diagnostic tools and strategies for combatting and harnessing resistance.


  • Professor Kay Latham is an experienced materials’ research chemist, educator, and advocate for equity and diversity in STEMM. She is the inaugural Dean of STEMM Diversity and Inclusion at RMIT, a leadership position created in 2020. In this role Professor Latham has the unique role of connecting RMIT’s entire STEMM ecosystem with the university’s STEMM diversity and inclusion strategy. She works with other senior leaders to drive gender diversity across the College of Science, Engineering and Health.
  • Associate Professor Robyn Barnacle is RMIT’s academic lead, research training and supervisor development, in the School of Graduate Research. Robyn leads the development and delivery of professional development programs for HDR candidates and supervisors, including the enterprise-wide Respectful Research Training culture-change initiative. Robyn’s research interests include research education and gender equality and she publishes widely on these topics.

  • With introduction by SAGE Chair Libby Lyons.

Watch now for a deep dive into what leaders do and don’t know about gender equality.

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