‘Fixing the system’ when it comes to Gender Equity comes down to all of us challenging existing cultures and attitudes in our everyday work. With Macquarie staff participating in conferences, symposia and other speaking events every week, the University is calling on us all to take the Panel Pledge – promoting speaker diversity – during Gender Equity Week.
It has been estimated that less than 15 per cent of panellists at high-profile events in Australia are female, and less than 12 per cent of cited experts in business newspaper articles are female (Male Champions of Change, 2016).
While the lack of female speakers at high-profile academic conferences can sometimes be directly attributed to a lack of women in the field, some still lack gender balance despite qualified women being readily available.
Here’s why a lack of diversity at these events is a problem:
- A narrower range of perspectives usually limits the quality of the conversation and potential outcomes.
- The absence of women in these conversations is self-perpetuating. When men dominate, fewer women put their hands up to speak and fewer women are chosen.
- Without the opportunity to serve on panels, women have less profile-building opportunities, which is an important contributor in career progression, particularly in academia.
At Macquarie, we believe that gender imbalance at events is entirely solvable. With this in mind, we invite all staff to take the Panel Pledge.
As signatories of the Panel Pledge, staff agree to:
- Not take part in any Macquarie University or external event, symposium or conference where the panel is not diverse.
- Insist events are representative and diverse if they are involved in their organisation.
The Panel Pledge page provides great advice for staff seeking to positively influence the diversity of event speakers, as well as research around the positive effects of speaker diversity.
For Professor David Wilkinson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement), the Panel Pledge is a simple but powerful way he and his colleagues can help progress Gender Equity.
“I spend a lot of time on panels,” David says. “And we run a lot of panels in the Engagement portfolio, especially around alumni events. As part of my portfolio’s explicit KPI’s around Gender Equity, I insist on a diversity of speakers in our panels and I personally will not agree to be on a panel unless the organisers make a genuine effort to ensure at least 40 per cent of the panellists are women.
“For me, ‘fixing the system’ means making Gender Equity the way we do business – business as usual. That’s how we fix the system – we reset the system.”
Take the Panel Pledge at this week’s Gender Equity Week events, or online at staff.mq.edu.au/work/diversity-and-community/panel-pledge