In 2016, the University of Melbourne undertook a targeted strategy to recruit academic women in defined STEM disciplines: only women applicants were eligible to apply for these academic positions.

This initiative commenced in the School of Mathematics and Statistics, and was later adopted by the Schools of Physics and Chemistry and the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology. This strategy was highly successful in attracting high calibre women applicants, with more than the original target of women being recruited.

This targeted recruitment strategy was not intended to be undertaken continuously. By undertaking one round of targeted recruitment in each of these disciplines, it signalled the university’s commitment to gender equity to all prospective women applicants and encouraged them to apply for open roles in the future.

Professor Marilys Guillemin, Professor Elaine Wong and Dr Georgina Such discuss the rationale behind this strategy, its allowance under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, different recruitment approaches employed, challenges and lessons learned.


  • Including those who were skeptical of identified positions on recruitment panels quickly dispelled their concerns about the quality of applicants
  • New hires were supported by a range of fellowship and mentoring opportunities, which also benefitted existing staff
  • Offering continuing positions was key to the initiative’s success

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