Towards gender equity

Towards gender equity

Macquarie University launched its first Workplace Gender Equity Strategy on International Women’s Day 2017, setting out an ambitious action plan for real and sustainable change towards gender equity, diversity and inclusion. Our Towards Gender Equity 2.0.strategy details our gender equity priorities, progress to date and future plans.

Our bold vision is to lead the way for other universities and organisations, and society more generally, to create greater equality for all genders at work.

At Macquarie we take a broad and strategic approach to diversity and inclusion – focussed on building a workforce that truly reflects the diversity of our community, and creating an inclusive culture where everyone is respected, supported and progressing.

We know that to make real progress, we need to transform the traditional approach to gender equity. Our approach is to 'fix the system' - meaning we're focusing our attention on the policies, systems, processes and cultures that create and maintain inequality. This means changing the way we do things.

We ultimately want to see equality consistently reflected in the fabric of our University. Working with a shared purpose to create real change, our leaders and teams aim to proactively challenge gender stereotypes and biases, build pipelines to better harness talent, and remove systemic obstacles to genuine equality of opportunity.

Learn about our Gender Equity priorities, progress and future plans.

Our commitments and progress

Our progress

More than nine-hundred Macquarie staff attended a series of events held across campus to launch the Workplace Gender Equity Strategy in March 2017. Momentum has been sustained through Gender Equity Summits held every six months, and an annual Gender Equity Week program of events. We piloted a staff survey designed to better understand obstacles to diversity and inclusion, and we made changes to several HR policies and processes to make them more inclusive. We have focused on building inclusion into everything we do - for example, our Events and Protocol Team adopted inclusive guidelines for all events, and Group Marketing now regularly reports to the University Executive against targets for gender balance in internal and external media.

Our progress

Our Vice-Chancellor and all Executive Group members have introduced specific key performance indicators (KPIs) related to progressing gender equity within their portfolio. The Executive Group reports to the Gender Equity Strategy Committee (GESC) on their achievements against these KPI’s. The GESC monitors and provides regular updates on priorities and progress to the University community. Our Gender Equity Self-Assessment Team (GESAT) leads strategy implementation and has developed numerous change initiatives to improve inclusivity of University policies, processes and culture. Some faculties and departments have established diversity and inclusion committees to focus activity at the local level.

Our progress 

We reviewed each stage of our recruitment process and piloted a range of initiatives to mitigate bias, including the use of inclusive language and images in advertisements, anonymising applications at long-listing stage, and implementation of training for hiring managers that promotes inclusion and gender equity in recruitment. We proactively sought to reach a more diverse candidate pool for roles where women are significantly under-represented, with a positive impact on application rates and increased appointments of women in a number of areas, most significantly in our School of Engineering where representation of academic women increased to 25% (from 5%). We also introduced new requirements for external search firms to have a gender balanced longlist for senior appointments.

Our progress

Macquarie’s new Academic Promotions process, implemented in 2017, was designed to expand the diversity of criteria by which people can be promoted, and better reflect activities and behaviours that are specifically valued and rewarded by the University. Under the 2018 Enterprise Agreement, three academic job families were introduced to enable more inclusive career pathways. A 40/40/20 representation model was applied to Macquarie Research Fellowships to ensure that a minimum 40% of recipients are women. The Early Career Researcher (ECR) Network supports researcher development towards Level C and above; helping to address key issues in our pipeline, and ensures a diversity in speakers, events and on their organising committee. Macquarie women participated in the ‘Superstars of STEMM’ - Science and Technology Australia development and recognition program. The University’s new Inspire six-month development program for managers was designed to embed inclusive leadership principles, and the majority of participants in the pilot were women.

Our progress

We implemented an updated flexible work policy and procedure, and developed tools and resources for managers and staff to increase opportunities for flexible work. Provisions in the 2018 Academic and Professional Staff Enterprise Agreements ensure the right to return to work part-time from parental leave, twenty days Domestic Violence Leave, and parental leave for surrogates. The costs of caring responsibilities were added as an allowable expense within Macquarie University grants and fellowships. Part-time scholarships are now available for Higher Degree Research (HDR) students returning from parental leave, and the Primary Carer Conference Support Scheme is in place to assist staff who have family responsibilities to present at academic conferences. Changes were made to eligibility criteria for the Macquarie University Restart Grant to be more inclusive of early career researchers. The Faculty of Science and Engineering also launched a Research Fellowship for staff returning from parental leave. Property upgraded the University’s parenting rooms, and Campus Life commenced planning for a new forty-five place childcare centre on campus.

Our progress

We have conducted two gender pay gap reviews since the launch of the Workplace Gender Equity Strategy. The University’s commitment to an end-to-end process of addressing pay equity is reflected in the 2018 Academic and Professional Staff Enterprise Agreements with specific actions on annual reporting of salary data to the Gender Equity Strategy Committee and University Executive. In recent examples of loading reviews and determination at both Faculty and individual level, loadings have been adjusted to ensure equity between men and women.

Gender Equity Strategy Committee

Our work in building a culture of equity is led by members of our Gender Equity Strategy Committee, who monitor and provide regular updates on priorities and progress to the University community.

Professor Sakkie Pretorius

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Co-Chair

Nicole Gower

Director of Human Resources and Co-Chair

Mark Broomfield

Director, Property

Jo Hatton

Manager, Workplace Diversity and Inclusion

Professor Lesley Hughes

Pro Vice-Chancellor, (Research Integrity and Development), Distinguished Professor of Biological Science

Pete Boyle


Professor Barbara Messerle

Executive Dean, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Professor Anne Ross-Smith

Associate Dean, Curriculum and Quality Assurance, Faculty of Business and Economics

Professor Johanna Westbrook

Director, Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research, Australian Institute of Health Innovation

Gender Equity Self-Assessment Team

Our Gender Equity Self-Assessment Team (GESAT) leads strategy implementation and has developed numerous change initiatives to improve the inclusivity of University policies, processes, and culture.

Izzy de AllendeWorkplace Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator
Albert AtkinSenior Lecturer, Department of Philosophy
Nicole MatthewsSenior Lecturer, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies
Leigh BoucherSenior Lecturer, Department of Modern History, Politics & International Relations
Pete BoyleCEO, U@MQ
Emily BrennanProject Manager, DVC Research
Maria DahmResearch Fellow, Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research
Judith DawesProfessor, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Joanne DawsonLecturer, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Saveria DimasiVice-President University Services and Strategy
Thom DixonResearch Engagement and Impact Coordinator, DVR Research
Louise FleckDirector, Research Services
Nicole GowerDirector, Human Resources
Jo HattonManager, Workplace Diversity and Inclusion
Mariella HerbersteinProfessor & Chair of University Senate, Department of Biology
Lesley HughesPro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity and Development)
Harriet JonesWorkplace Diversity and Inclusion Consultant
Rachel KallenAssociate Professor, Department of Psychology
Candace LangProfessor, Department of Engineering
Mauricio MarroneSenior Lecturer, Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance
Richard McDermidARC Future Fellow, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Rebecca MitchellProfessor, Department of Management
Todd PhillipsIndigenous Workforce Development Coordinator, PVC (Indigenous Strategy)
Ronika PowerAssociate Professor, Department of Ancient History
Anina RichProfessor, Department of Cognitive Science
Alison RodgerHead of Department, Department of Molecular Science
Katrina SealeyHead of Research Data and Software, Australian Astronomical Optics
Lan SnellAssociate Professor, Academic Program Director, Global MBA
Johanna WestbrookProfessor, Director of Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research

Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE)

To support our progress towards gender equity at Macquarie, we have signed up to be part of the SAGE Athena SWAN Pilot, along with 40 other Australian universities and research institutes. The Athena SWAN requires us to understand and interrogate our own context and gendered dynamics in relation to recruitment, retention, progression and university culture.

The Athena SWAN charter was first developed in the UK in 2005 – universities and departments can apply for Bronze, Silver or Gold awards recognising progress and impact. The The SAGE pilot (supported by the Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering) is adapting the Athena SWAN charter in Australia. All institutions in the pilot are applying for a Bronze award, and Macquarie is due to submit our application in March 2019.  To be successful at Bronze level, we must understand and reflect on our own progress and areas for improvement in relation to gender equity, and develop a 4-year action plan to address issues identified.

The SAGE pilot focuses on STEMM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) as women are underrepresented in these areas at a national level. However, at Macquarie, we are using the Athena SWAN charter as a mechanism to inform our progress towards gender equity across the university. While there may be issues specific to STEMM disciplines that we will aim to address, the majority of actions and initiatives that are developed will be implemented across the university to ensure everyone benefits from this process.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency reports

In line with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, Macquarie submits its public report with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. All universities are required to submit their reports by 31 July each year.

The 2018-2019 Workplace Gender Equality Agency Report is now available to be viewed. Macquarie University employees are invited to provide comments on the report to Jo Hatton, Manager, Workplace Diversity and Inclusion, by emailing All comments are confidential. If you have any issues with the accessibility of this report, please contact Jo Hatton.

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