About the SAGE Pilot program

The University of Queensland is excited to be a part of the national SAGE Pilot of the Athena SWAN program to address and improve gender equity in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) disciplines. Forty-five Australian organisations, including universities, medical research institutions and government research institutions, are involved in the SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN.

Athena SWAN logo

What is the SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN?

The SAGE Pilot is modelled on the Athena SWAN program was initiated in the United Kingdom and has had proven success in addressing gender equality in STEMM in higher education and research institutions. The Athena SWAN program implements an accreditation framework where organisations apply for a Bronze, Silver or Gold award which recognises their progress in addressing gender equity. Organisations must receive a Bronze award before they can apply for Silver or Gold. In the UK, some research grant bodies require organisations to have a Bronze Athena SWAN award to be eligible for grant applications.  

The SAGE Pilot aims to adapt the Athena SWAN model for the Australian landscape to address and improve gender equity in STEMM by implementing its rigorous evaluation and accreditation framework. The SAGE Pilot runs for two years, and successful receipt of a Bronze award is valid for four years. UQ will submit their application for a Bronze award in early 2019.

The details of the program are outlined in the SAGE Pilot Institutional Handbook. To complete the SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN program organisation complete a Bronze Institutional Award application which requires them to:

  • commit to the ten principles in the Athena SWAN Charter;
  • develop a Self-Assessment Team (SAT) that is representative of the diversity of the organisation to steer the program;
  • collect and analyse quantitative and qualitative data to gain a deep understanding of all aspects of the organisation;
  • complete a policy and program review to ensure that all organisational policies and programs are inclusive;
  • consult and engage with staff across the organisation to gain a deeper understanding of their workplace experience;
  • use the quantitative and qualitative data collected to identify key barriers, challenges and opportunities in the organisation; and
  • develop a four-year action plan that addresses any barriers and challenges identified in the analysis of the organisation.

The institution's application will be assessed by a peer review panel to determine if a Bronze award will be awarded.

Why is the SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN important?

The SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN aims to address the under-representation of women in STEMM disciplines. The figure below shows the representation of women in STEMM in Australia.

Figure One- representation of women in STEMM at different stages of the career path

As the figure shows, there is a 'leaky pipeline' in the STEMM career pipeline for women. Women are slightly over-represented at Bachelor level but are grossly under-represented in Professorial levels. Only approximately 20 per cent of professors in Australia are women. This is true of UQ and across the higher education sector nationally.

The SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN aims to adapt the UK based Athena SWAN program for the Australian context to address the under-representation of women in STEMM. The Athena SWAN program has been running in the UK for over ten years and has had remarkable impacts. In the independent review of the program in 2014 found that the outcomes of the program includes:

  • improved women’s prominence in the organisation and the wider sector;
  • increased self-confidence for all staff;
  • enhanced leadership skills in all staff;
  • enabling organisations to think more broadly about gender issues; and
  • impacted positively on career development for all staff.

SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN at UQ

UQ will submit an application for a Bronze award, which will include a comprehensive action plan, in March 2019. The action plan will then be implemented between 2019 and 2023. 

To be successful in our application for a Bronze award, UQ needs to ensure that we demonstrate:

  • evidence of good practice: practice that is innovative and addresses the barriers experienced by different genders;
  • data collection and analysis: deep and honest analysis and reflection, compelling evidence base and rationale, when relevant to demonstrate trends, key issues and improvements;
  • consultation: to inform analysis and drive persuasive argument for action;
  • self reflection and evaluation: honest and insightful reflection and evaluation of policy, practice and initiatives; and
  • an action plan: addressing the gaps identified in the analysis to work towards improving the representation and experience of women in STEMM.

The work of the SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN is coordinated by a Self-Assessment Team (SAT). At UQ, the SAT is chaired by Professor Robyn Ward, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and is made up of 22 members who reflect the diversity of UQ. The SAT has a 45% gender balance.

The SAT is supported by several working parties who are responsible for different elements of the Bronze Institutional Award Application. The SAT Working Parties are:

  • SAT Career Development Working Party.
  • SAT Communications and Engagement Working Party.
  • SAT Data and Analysis Working Party.
  • SAT Flexible Work Working Party.
  • SAT Organisation and Culture Working Party.

More information about UQ's participation in the SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN can be found in the UQ SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN Portal and the UQ SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN News and Events.

If you have any questions about the SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN and the work of the Self-Assessment Team please contact SAT Secretariat, Ms Jordan Tredinnick, Workplace Diversity and Inclusion.