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Gender equity

Our commitment to gender equity

We advance gender equity by promoting women in leadership and furthering women’s education.

In 1881 we became one of the first universities in the world to admit female students. By 1990 — just over a century after the first woman graduated — women students outnumbered men for the first time in our history, with 15,000 women enrolled in a student body of 26,000. Women now make up well over half of our staff community – 57 percent in a total of 7500 staff (based on 2017 statistics).

These stories highlight our rich history – built on a foundation of inclusion – and our commitment to opening the doors to everyone to flourish in their educational pursuits.



As part of the University’s aim to promote gender equity in education we have gained the Bronze Award in the Athena SWAN accreditation, as part of our commitment to the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative.

The SAGE program promotes gender equity and diversity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).

A pilot of the successful UK-based Athena SWAN program established in 2005, the Australian program is a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

It assesses gender equality policies and practices, and helps organisations establish ways to promote and retain women and gender minorities in their ranks.

The program achieves its goals through an evaluation and accreditation framework carried out by dedicated members of the University’s Self Assessment Team (link below) and the SAGE Project Office who are responsible for:

  • collecting, analysing and interrogating gender data across STEMM faculties at our University
  • developing our action plans to address identified issues.

The Self Assessment Team prepared the application for the SAGE/Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award.

Professor Renae Ryan from Sydney Medical School (Pharmacology) is the Academic Director of SAGE, and Co-Chair of the Self-Assessment Team with Associate Professor Tony Masters, Chair of the University's Academic Board.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence, is the Executive Sponsor of SAGE, and the program forms part of our 2016-20 Strategic Plan.


Women share their experiences of playing leadership roles in male-dominated fields.

Female staff, students and alumna recently gathered to participate in an open discussion on the state of play for women in the workplace. Together they discussed fluctuations in female participation over time, the obvious retention problem and the societal changes needed, particularly in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).

The group also gave honest accounts of work and study and offered advice on finding the right career, the importance of mentoring and what makes a good leader. 


The SAGE Self-Assessment Team (SAT) is responsible for the submission of the University’s Bronze Award Application and meets bi-monthly. The SAT is Co-Chaired by Professor Trevor Hambley and Professor Renae Ryan, who is also the Academic Director for SAGE. The SAT includes academic staff from all STEMM Faculties and members of professional staff from HR and MarComms.


The SAT have formed working groups in four key areas:

  • Data
  • Career Progression
  • Organisation and Culture
  • Communications.

Each SAT member is part of a working group who, together with other targeted members of staff, meet regularly to gather and analyse the University’s data and develop a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound) Action Plan to create the Bronze Award Application.

Working groups have each been given responsibility for areas of focus from the Bronze Application.


Co-chairs 海南省久生昌服务有限公司

Associate Professor Anthony Masters, Chair of Academic Board

Professor Renae Ryan, Professor - Sydney Medical School (Pharmacology)

Members 邵武捷益长商贸有限公司

Sarah Abbott - Senior Manager, Diversity, Leadership and Inclusion; Talent, Organisational Development and Diversity

Chris Angwin, Marketing and Communications, Faculty of Science

Mehala Balamurali, Post-doctoral research associate, Faculty of Engineering and IT

Professor Tim Bedding, Head of School - Faculty of Science (Physics)

Dr Kim Bell-Anderson, Senior Lecturer - Faculty of Science (SOLES)

Associate Professor Kirsten Black, Associate Professor/Joint Head of Discipline - Sydney Medical School (Obstetrics and Gynaecology)

Professor Céline Boehm, Head of School – Faculty of Science (Physics)

Associate Professor Densil Cabrera, Senior Lecturer - School of Architecture, Design & Planning

Dr Elizabeth Clarke, Senior Lecturer (P/T) - Sydney Medical School (Northern Medical School)

Dr Kumi de Silva, Research Fellow (P/T) - Sydney School of Veterinary Science

Professor Alan Fekete, Professor - Faculty of Engineering & IT

Annie Fenwicke, Project Manager - Science in Australia Gender Equity Program (Office of the Vice-Chancellor & Principal)

Associate Professor Murray Fisher, Associate Professor and Acting Associate Dean (Research) - Sydney Nursing School.

Professor David Guest, Professor - Institute of Agriculture

Professor Trevor Hambley, Faculty of Science (Chemistry)

Jeremy Heathcote, Indigenous Community Engagement Officer

Associate Professor Muireann Irish, Associate Professor – School of Psychology

Meryem Joseph, Human Resources

Dr Maree Milross, Lecturer (P/T) - Faculty of Health Sciences (Physiotherapy)

Dr Kevin McGeechan, Master of Public Health Course Coordinator and Lecturer in Biostatistics Sydney Medical School (Public Health)

Dr Rachael Morton, NHMRC Early Career Fellow - Sydney Medical School (Public Health)

Associate Professor Joel Negin, Head of School - Sydney Medical School (Public Health)

Julia Newton, Head of Faculty Marketing & Communications - Marketing and Communications

Associate Professor Ky-Anh Nguyen, Associate Professor - Faculty of Dentistry (Westmead Oral Health)

Emeritus Professor Robyn Overall, Chair Women in Science - Faculty of Science (SOLES)

Dr Matt Pye, Associate Lecturer - Faculty of Science (SOLES)

Professor Jacqui Ramagge, Head of School - Faculty of Science (Mathematics & Statistics)

Dr Charmaine Tam, NHMRC Early Career Fellow - Faculty of Science (SOLES)

Dr Ben Thornber, Senior Lecturer - Faculty of Engineering & IT (Aeronautical)

Mark Try, Program Manager - Culture Strategy (Office of the Vice-Chancellor & Principal)

Michelle Villeneuve, Faculty of Health Sciences (Occupational Therapy)


Career progression 重庆祥升多科技有限公司

Developing an understanding of where the real issues lie in supporting and advancing women’s careers at the University, including in the areas of recruitment, promotion, parental leave and workplace flexibility.

Communications 合山隆利永商贸有限公司

Promotion and awareness-raising, and staff engagement with the SAGE Project within the University and more broadly.

Data 亳州茂恒盛有限公司

Collection, collation and analysis of the University’s gender equity and diversity data (both quantitative and qualitative) to create an honest and reflective picture of the University.

Organisation and culture 西安合巨新机械有限公司

Deeply analysing and understanding the University’s culture and how this impacts on gender equity and diversity and the wellbeing of staff and how this can be influenced and changed in the future.


The SAGE Advisory Council (SAC) has been appointed to support and champion the delivery of the University's SAGE/Athena SWAN Application by providing expertise, advice and advocacy to advance gender equity and diversity across STEMM and the broader University.


SAC members 阜阳台恒巨有限公司

  • Professor Jane Latimer (Chair), Musculoskeletal Health - Sydney Medical School (Public Health)
  • Associate Professor Jennifer Barrett, Director - Culture Strategy, (Office of the Vice-Chancellor & Principal)
  • Professor Katherine Belov, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement)
  • Dr Andrew Black, Director - Research, Development and Collaboration (Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research))
  • Professor Emerita Judy Black, Pharmacology - Sydney Medical School (Medical Sciences)
  • Brian Clohessy, Director - BVN Architects, MCC Architecture Group
  • Professor Elizabeth Elliott, Children’s Medical Research Institute - Sydney Medical School
  • Professor Philip Gale, Head of School - Faculty of Science (Chemistry)
  • Karen Haywood, Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Professor Duncan Ivison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
  • Jane Oakeshott, Deputy Director, Relationship Management (Campus Infrastructure & Services)
  • Stephen Phillips, Vice-Principal Operations (Office of the Vice-Chancellor & Principal)
  • Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director, Charles Perkins Centre Professor, Faculty of Science (SOLES)
  • Professor Jakelin Troy, Director - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research (Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research))
  • Professor Stefan Williams, Head of School - Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies (Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering)

Ex Officio members 博乐凯顺万有限公司

  • Professor Trevor Hambley, Co-Chair SAGE Self-Assessment Team, Faculty of Science (Chemistry)
  • Professor Renae Ryan, Co-Chair SAGE Self-Assessment Team, Academic Director - Science in Australia Gender Equity Program
  • Annie Fenwicke, Project Manager - Science in Australia Gender Equity Program


The Panel Pledge is an initiative to help improve gender diversity on discussion panels, discussion forums and other external events.

The pledge was introduced as part of the broader commitment to gender diversity and equity. Adapted from the national Male Champions of Change initiative, it is supported by the University’s Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) program (see above) and consistent with our strategic aspiration to foster a culture that is built on our values.

Everyone at the University is encouraged to sign the pledge and it is especially relevant for those people whose role involves planning, sponsoring or speaking at a discussion panel, forum or other external event.

Since it was launched in October 2018, more than 250 University staff have signed the pledge and that number continues to steadily grow.


The Panel Pledge wording is as follows.

I commit to: 

  • ensuring that all forums that I am involved in at the University and more broadly take gender diversity into account so that equity of voice is achieved. 
  • ensuring that all forums sponsored by University take gender diversity into account 
  • when speaking at an event, I will enquire about composition of the panellists/speakers and how the organisers are working towards gender diversity
    • and reserve the right to withdraw from the event should gender diversity not be met.
  • When speaking at an event where gender diversity has not been achieved, I will recognise this in my remarks where relevant: 
    • mention that I requested improved gender diversity in the speakers 
    • highlight relevant female leaders in my field and potential speakers in my presentation.

If you are a member of the University community and interested in signing the Panel Pledge, please contact us.


Our Women’s Career Acceleration and Leadership Strategy is designed to accelerate representation of women at all levels at the University and address several key areas:

  • developing the capability of our leaders to lead inclusively
  • setting female representation targets, and implementing and building strategies at local levels
  • providing career support and flexible career pathways
  • investigating pay equity
  • consistently implementing and managing flexible working arrangements.

We also hold an annual symposium – Women at Sydney: share, connect, change. Each year the symposium agenda includes inspiring talks, panel discussions and thought-provoking content presented by leaders from across the University to showcase, support and empower career success for women.

Throughout the year we will share the stories of inspirational women leaders from across the University.



Committing to gender equity and improving workplace culture

The University of Sydney has received a SAGE Athena SWAN Bronze Award, as part of its commitment to the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative. SAGE is a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.


Learn more from our leaders and activists.

Sydney Ideas: Gender, equity and diversity


Sex, lies and gender inequality at work 


GI Jane, women on the front line 


Women in Leadership: why aren’t we there yet?



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