Over the past year, many members of our community have been working hard to make RSES a more inclusive and supportive workplace for our staff and students.
The positive changes that have happened so far include:
- A new Carers' Room has been set up on the ground floor of the J8 building. The room is equipped with a nursing chair, other comfortable seating, a fridge, toys and work desk.
- Change tables have been installed in the unisex bathrooms on the ground floor and the top floor of the J8 building.
- The RSES seminars have been moved to 1pm to make these events more accessible for staff and students with young children. Wherever possible other meetings are also being held within core family-friendly hours of 9.30am to 2.30pm.
- All research students who are nursing mothers will now be provided with single occupancy offices to support their work with us during this stage.
- Unisex toilets have been labelled as such (not male/female).
- Training has been implemented in the School on bullying, unconscious bias, approaches to maintain mental health for PhD students, and supervisors have been encouraged to undertake several additional training courses.
- Support materials for selection committees in addressing criteria related to equity and diversity have been provided to the Director and on the RSES intranet, along with ANU policies and procedures on bullying and discrimination.
- The RSES Equity and Diversity Committee are now making presentations at each School and Student Forum to facilitate discussions that will lead to further improvements in our workplace culture.
- A Professional Staff Forum is being implemented to improve staff development and satisfaction within the School.
- A suggestions box has been installed in the mail room in J8, and processes are in place for appropriate suggestions to be addressed.
These changes come partly in response to the RSES Cultural Survey that was held last year. Some findings indicated that we needed to resolve significant barriers to diversity and productivity at RSES. A detailed recommendations report on initiatives was released by the RSES Equity and Diversity Committee in October 2015. An update will be released soon.
The proactive approach at RSES to identifying and resolving issues of Equity and Diversity compliments the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot based on the Athena SWAN initiative that ANU is commencing this year.
Similar to many other geosciences departments, RSES has for many years graduated equal numbers of male and female geoscientist PhDs. However the numbers of females being retained into higher levels of academia falls off sharply.
At an International Women’s Day event earlier this year, ANU Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt said, “The loss of women scientists is a significant waste of expertise, talent and investment, and negatively impacts our nation's scientific productivity."
For more information on the RSES Equity and Diversity Committee please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. This work was partially supported by a Gender Institute grant and funds from RSES and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.