A range of barriers affect career progression and equitable access to opportunities within science. Women comprise around 50 percent of PhD students and post-docs, but their career progression is often negatively impacted by structural barriers, resulting in a loss of knowledge, talent and investment. Women occupy less than 20 percent of senior researcher positions in Australian universities and research institutes, and are significantly underrepresented in achieving funding success.

Furthermore, people with sensory or physical impairments, people of colour, people with English as a second language, and some religious groups may not have equitable access to opportunities.

Established in 2017, the Committee provided advice and guidance to the Executive Committee on issues pertaining to gender, equity and diversity in the Centre, and delivered strategies to improve gender, equity and diversity within the Centre.

The Committee oversaw 16 grants worth $11,500 for Centre members, resulting in improved equitable access to resources for those needing it most.

Initially chaired by A/Prof Melinda Fitzgerald and later chaired by Dr Sharna Jamadar, the Committee met 15 times, both online and face-to-face as part of our Annual Meetings.

Key Achievements

The Committee implemented several policies and procedures to support an equitable environment where all staff and students were equally respected and valued. These included:

  • Policy Guidelines
  • Accessibility Guidelines
  • Caregiver Travel Grant
  • English as a Second Language
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • COVID-19 Caregiver Grant
  • Opportunity forum

The Committee arranged various training sessions including ‘Unconscious Bias’ workshops and a diversity and inclusion e-learning course for all Centre members.

The Committee delivered various initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic to support BrainFunction CoE students and postdocs who were at risk due to reduced income resulting from COVID-related delays in their research.