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16 September 2015

ARC welcomes new pilot for research gender equity

Australian Research Council (ARC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Professor Aidan Byrne has welcomed the launch of a new pilot programme focusing on gender equity in research.

Thirty-two organisations are participating in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot, a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). This will be the first Australian trial of the UK Athena SWAN gender equity accreditation programme.

Professor Byrne said that while the success rate for ARC-funded female researchers was on par to males, the number of proposals submitted by females was substantially lower.

“We need to provide our female researchers with every opportunity possible to apply for funding and this is not only a responsibility for the ARC, but also for individual universities. Collectively it is a joint responsibility to create an environment that allows success.

“In the coming weeks the ARC will release an ARC Gender Equality Action Plan and ARC Women in Research statement. The ARC is working hard to ensure that all researchers are given every opportunity to apply for funding, taking special consideration of those who have had career breaks.

“This is why we ask researchers to provide evidence of their research opportunity and performance evaluation (ROPE) as part of the application process.

“ROPE provides a framework within which the quality and benefit of achievements is given more weight than the quantity or rate of particular accomplishments. It considers working arrangements, career histories and personal circumstances and provides an acknowledgement of research performance given the opportunities available.

“In addition to this we have our two special female Australian Laureate Fellowships, which are specifically designed to allow the recipients to mentor women in research.

“The ARC also recently changed the eligibility exemption rules for our early-career fellowships scheme to extend the window of post-PhD (0-5 years) and allow carers of dependent children to claim up to two years per dependent child.

“The launch of the SAGE pilot programme today is another important step in ensuring every opportunity is given to our female researchers and is a welcome addition to the Australian research landscape,” Professor Byrne said.

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