Progressing gender equity – a message from the Vice-Chancellor


Applications from women up almost 100 per cent: Increasing the number of women in senior academic roles has been a priority in the University’s Workplace Gender Equity Strategy.

With Macquarie having recently submitted its annual report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the Vice-Chancellor Professor S. Bruce Dowton provides staff with an update on our progress towards gender equity.

Many of you would be familiar with our Workplace Gender Equity Strategy Towards Gender Equity 2.0 which cemented diversity and inclusion as a key institutional focus for Macquarie. It remains an important personal focus for me as Vice-Chancellor.

Since the launch of the strategy, the higher education sector has faced significant challenges due to COVID-19 and other external factors. In keeping with our joint universities and sector partners commitment of June 2020, we have taken deliberate action to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on our goal of gender equity at Macquarie.

We continue to make significant progress across many of the action points in our strategy and have embedded diversity and inclusion principles within a number of our organisational processes in the last 12 months. I wanted to share with you some of the highlights:

  • The success of our strategy is deeply dependent on engaging staff at all levels to progress diversity and inclusion. We have seen increased engagement from staff across all areas of the University in the last year, driven by the establishment of our MQ Inclusion Committee and eight local faculty and portfolio Diversity and Inclusion Committees. These committees have been given a broad remit to actively drive progress across all areas of diversity and inclusion and I am confident they will successfully accelerate our progress and success against our targets. We have also seen a significant increase in membership of our Ally Network and it is encouraging to see so many staff taking this active step to create a more inclusive campus.
  • I have noticed a significant shift in the conversations around diversity and inclusion at Macquarie. Our ‘fixing the system’ approach has resonated with staff and, in many cases, extended beyond gender equity. A broad range of initiatives are being established to progress inclusion across the University, including a project in Academic Senate to understand and improve the diversity of membership, and the organisation of a conference focusing on inclusive teaching practice.
  • The positive impacts of the Strategy’s recruitment and promotion model continue to be visible throughout the academic pipeline – particularly at Levels B and C. There was an almost 100 per cent increase in applications from women in the period 2017-2020, compared to the previous four-year period, and application rates from women have been in line with – or higher than – the available pool at each academic level under the new promotion model.
  • Guided by recommendations from MQ Inclusion, inclusive principles have been embedded into our academic workplace change process. Actions included an analysis of diversity data at each stage of the process, and a progressive approach to assessment of achievement relative to opportunity. Training was provided to decision panels and impacted staff. Lessons learnt from this process are now being considered for other change processes.
  • There has been an increase in the proportion of men accessing primary carers leave over the past five years at Macquarie, in part due to increased communication of support available and a focus on sharing case studies of male parents and carers.
  • Macquarie has been recognised publicly as a leader on gender equity, receiving several external awards including the esteemed WGEA Employer of Choice citation.
  • While COVID-19 has presented many challenges and negative impacts across the world, one of the positives has been monumental advance of flexible work practices for all staff. We must take this opportunity to embed flexibility in our ways of working, which has been taken up by the Future of Work project under the Our People stream of the Operating Plan.

While we should all be proud of this progress, there are several priority areas that I will ensure are progressed over the next year:

  • Addressing bullying or harassment within our community is a priority for me and the leadership team. We have zero tolerance at Macquarie for any form of discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment and building a culture of inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. I implore everyone in our staff community to challenge bullying or inappropriate behaviours wherever they see them and work together to ensure our community is one of mutual support. The University has a Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response policy and an online training module for all staff, and we are currently reviewing our Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Prevention and Response Policy.
  • I am committed to ensuring our leadership roles reflect the diversity of our community and are gender balanced. This requires a continued focus on equitable career progression and development, and recruitment processes. We have seen significant progress resulting from the new promotion model for academic staff and will continue our work towards gender balance in leadership roles.
  • We will continue to embed inclusive leadership as an expectation for all managers and provide training and resources to build capability in this area.
  • We still have an organisational pay gap, and I am determined to see it reduce. We will be developing a remuneration policy and will take targeted action to address any identified gaps.
  • To strengthen our commitment, we are proposing a new strategy to guide our collective efforts towards Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, and I look forward to sharing further details on this in the coming months. I welcome any feedback on how we can make further progress towards true inclusion and gender equity at Macquarie.

As I highlighted in our Operating Plan, our people are key to our success as an institution. We must have the humility to recognise areas where we need to be open to change, and commit to that change to ensure everyone in our diverse community has the opportunity to belong and fully contribute to our shared successful future.

Professor S. Bruce Dowton





Back to homepage


Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *

We encourage active and constructive debate through our comments section, but please remain respectful. Your first and last name will be published alongside your comment.

Comments will not be pre-moderated but any comments deemed to be offensive, obscene, intimidating, discriminatory or defamatory will be removed and further action may be taken where such conduct breaches University policy or standards. Please keep in mind that This Week is a public site and comments should not contain information that is confidential or commercial in confidence.

Got a story to share?

Visit our contribute page >>