16 November 2015

ARC Gender Equality Action Plan 2015–16 released

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has released its Gender Equality Action Plan for 2015–16, highlighting actions it will take in the coming months to improve awareness and information about gender equality in research.

The ARC has also released its Gender Equality in Research Statement—a statement of support and expectations for gender equality.

ARC CEO Professor Aidan Byrne said while a number of initiatives are already in place at the ARC to improve the gender divide, it was important that the agency articulate its views in this area.

“We are committed to ensuring that all researchers have the same opportunity to participate in ARC funding schemes irrespective of gender,” he said.

“We have already established a range of initiatives to support this commitment, including:

  • targeted funding through the Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme
  • maternity/paternity leave and part-time arrangements for fellowship and awards
  • a Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence selection criterion
  • extension of eligibility requirements for some fellowships/awards
  • engagement with stakeholders and the wider community about the issue of gender equality.

“What we are further announcing today is our action plan for the current financial year in the gender equality space.”

Some of our action items for 2015–16 include:

  • monitoring and evaluating the impact of changes to the eligibility requirements under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award scheme
  • improving the gender balance of membership on ARC selection committees relative to the overall gender balance in particular research fields
  • raising awareness of the option for recipients of fellowships and awards to utilise parental leave and part-time arrangements for caring responsibilities
  • encouraging the development of a Centre-specific equity plan within the Funding Agreement for ARC Centres of Excellence commencing in 2017
  • investigating options for unconscious bias training for ARC College of Experts and/or assessors
  • monitoring leave provisions under fellowships to ensure continued consistency.

“Gender equality in research is an important subject. One only has to look at the participation rate of women in ARC funding schemes to see that more can and should be done to provide more opportunity for women researchers.

“At the same time, we also need to ensure there is appropriate support for researchers, of all gender, who have had a career break.

“In September the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot was launched. This partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) is the first Australian trial of the UK Athena SWAN gender equity accreditation programme. 

“The launch of the SAGE pilot programme was another important step in ensuring every opportunity is given to women science researchers

“However, gender equality in research is not only a responsibility for the ARC and the Academies—it is also a responsibility for individual universities across all disciplines.

“Collectively it is a joint responsibility to create an environment that allows success irrespective of gender.

“The ARC is committed to improving gender equality and the release of our Action Plan and Statement today are two small measures that we will continue to build on in the coming months and years, of course in deep consultation with the higher education and research sector,” said Professor Byrne.

For more information about the ARC Gender Equality Action Plan 2015–16 and the ARC Gender Equality in Research Statement please visit the Gender Equality in Research page on the ARC website.

Media contact:
ARC Stakeholder Relations
0412 623 056 or communications@arc.gov.au