Professor Tim Wess joins recent veski conversation

29 September
Snow Barlow, Andrew Holmes, Tim Wess and Julia Page
Snow Barlow, Andrew Holmes, Tim Wess and Julia Page

On Monday, 22 September 2014, members of the veski inspiring women program and relevant stakeholders involved with gender equality within their institutions attended a veski conversation with Professor Tim Wess at the Investment Centre Victoria. 

Professor Wess, the Executive Dean of Science at Charles Sturt University, delivered an inspiring presentation sharing his thoughts and experience of the Athena SWAN model and how he implemented, reported and managed change across Cardiff University and the broader UK science and technology marketplace. 

The Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) award is the main benchmark for gender equality in the UK HEI sector. The award was initially developed from the UK wide equality challenge unit to address issues of career progression and under representation of females in UK science. This extended rapidly to healthcare and now includes the humanities. The standard awards can be for an institution or a departmental unit, and are available at bronze, silver and gold levels.

Professor Wess discussed the biggest challenges institutions face regarding gender equality and stated that in order to change cultures and attitudes about gender inequalities, commitment and action is required from all levels of an organisation.  

Obtaining the award requires a self-audit of staffing and post graduate student numbers, and description of innovative policies above and beyond the legislation described in the UK 2010 equality act that defines a series of protected characteristics.

Professor Wess noted the comparisons between the landscapes of the UK and Australia and provided examples of actions or activities that could be taken to elevate Australia to the same level as well as examples of actions that are not affirmative. 

veski looks forward to applying some of the insights provided by Professor Wess as Victoria develops its own women in science code and informs the future directions of a national conversation underway about how Australia can develop its own model like the Athena SWAN. 

The learnings shared by Professor Wess sparked lively conversation among guests throughout the luncheon and provided a networking opportunity aimed at changing gender inequality. 

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