Defence wins award for advancing gender equity in STEM

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday February 21, 2020

A panel discussion at the inaugural Catalysing Gender Equity Conference in Adelaide.

The Department of Defence has joined up with the education, research, and industry sectors to support gender equality in the STEM workforce, and has been recognised for its efforts.

Defence partnered with the Australian Academy of Science to support the inaugural Catalysing Gender Equity conference, held in Adelaide from February 20-21.

The event aims to accelerate transformative and sustained change within the STEM sector to achieve true gender equality.

Attendees included Chief Defence Scientist Professor Tanya Monro, CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall, and Professor Caroline McMillen, the Chief Scientist of South Australia.

Monro, who also chairs the Defence STEM council, said the STEM workforce is integral to the defence sector.

“To enable us to meet the Defence and national security challenges of today and the future, it’s critical that we build a world-leading STEM-capable workforce,” she said.

“And we can only build a world-leading STEM-capable workforce if we increase the depth and diversity of the talent pool. Increasing the participation rate of women is critical to achieving that.”

The department has also been recognised for its gender equity work with the Athena Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN) Institutional Bronze Award, which acknowledges institutional commitment to advancing the careers of women in STEM.

The award was presented to the Defence Science and Technology Group at the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Awards, also held in Adelaide on February 20.

The award demonstrates the priority and value the department places on gender and talent diversity in STEM disciplines, according to Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

“Addressing gender equity and diversity strengthens an organisation’s intellectual capital, and its capacity for problem-solving and innovation,” she said.

“This means better outcomes for people and business, and the long-term success of an organisation.

“It is not only the right thing for us to do in Defence – it is the smart thing for us to do.”

The department has signed up to be champions of the Australian Academy of Science’s Women in STEM Decadal Plan, which outlines six opportunities that stakeholders — including government — to create change. The six opportunities are: leadership and cohesion; evaluation; workplace culture; visibility; education; and industry action.

Defence has committed to publicly align its gender equity actions with the plan.

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