WiSE Summit communiqué: commitments to action 11 April 2011

CSIRO, Australia’s largest employer of researchers on Monday 11 April committed to remove barriers to the promotion of highly skilled women and to increase incentives to encourage women to return to the workforce after maternity leave.

These were two of many commitments made by research funders, leaders and employers who today came together for the first time at the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Summit in Parliament House, Canberra.

The Summit, attended by the Hon Kate Ellis, Minister for Employment Participation and Childcare and for the Status of Women, discussed how to keep women in science and encourage more young women into engineering in order to boost productivity and equity.

Importantly, the nation’s leading research funders, the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Council, agreed to changes in how they assess research publications in the grant application of those with interrupted careers. The ARC committed to extending the period taken into account. The NHMRC this year will consider any nominated five years of an applicant’s career rather than the previous five years, and it has also agreed to monitor gender issues in general.

We invite you to leave your comments at the end of this communique.

Further commitments to action made at the Summit include:

  • The Australian Technology Network Universities have set a performance target that the number of female staff who teach science, engineering and technology subjects will be in the same proportion as women employed in STE industries (about 16 per cent);
  • IBM, an significant employer of scientists and technologists, has agreed to support CSIRO’s Science in Schools program;
  • The Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS), Australia’s peak body for science and technology, has undertaken to work with scientific societies Australia-wide to conduct an audit of practices with a view to increasing the participation of women through best practice;
  • FASTS will also gather examples of existing practices, programs and policies which have been successful and develop a toolkit for the science and technology sector to be guided by;
  • All research leaders agreed to take the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles back to their organisations with a view to adopting them;
  • Other CSIRO commitments include:
    o    Increasing the number of Payne-Scott awards—designed to bring women back to the workforce after maternity leave;
    o    To report on gender participation within the CSIRO; and
    o    To remove cultural barriers, and build greater trust and respect within the CSIRO.

A detailed communiqué on the outcome of the Summit will be published within the next few days.

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