Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Hexagons For Edi 2

Advocating for change to bring about equity, diversity and inclusion in University Science is a fundamental priority of the ACDS

Universities are drivers of change and are vital to creating the society we want to be in the future. 

As the peak body representing University Science, we seek changes to redress past decision making and practices to ensure equity, diversity and inclusion for all staff and students.  Eliminating gender imbalance is not the only objective.    Increasing university participation by students and staff from groups that are traditionally under-represented is equally important and requires embedding social inclusion in universities.

Our aims: 

  1. To support leaders of science faculties to redress the very significant under representation of women in leadership roles and the lack of diversity throughout the academic pipeline.
  2. To promote the design and delivery of a university science education system that is accessible, equitable and culturally rich for students, including access for students from traditionally under-represented groups.
  3. To advance the work of teaching and learning practitioners to incorporate into their science curriculum the wisdom and science of Indigenous communities.
  4. To advocate the need for change to policies and practices that are biased towards a status quo of recognizing excellence that reward outdated models of achievement that don’t take into account opportunity.
  5. To provide quick links to information and resources that provide an insight into the disparity of outcomes for underrepresented groups as well as access to best practices and resources that redress inequality in STEM.
  6. Make equity, diversity and inclusion a central part of how the ACDS works. The ACDS Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy sets out our commitment to the values of equity, diversity and inclusion in our governance and management operations, as well as in all our programs and activities.

Quick links to further resources:

In this section, we collate data and resources from a range of Australian (and occasionally overseas) sources from all types of media.  The content is intended to help you understand the type of material available and concepts that you might utilise.

Understanding Gender, Equity and Inclusiveness in higher education in Australia

Dr Cathy Foley, Australia’s Chief Scientist delivered the 2021 Helen Williams Oration.  In her presentation she stated “The latest STEM Equity Monitor shows that more than a third of men in tertiary education are studying STEM qualifications; areas related to maths, or the sciences or engineering – excluding health. But for women, the figure is only 9 per cent.  That is, more than 90 per cent of women at university or TAFE are studying for qualifications not related to STEM. When your country is building its future on high-tech STEM-related industries, that’s a problem.”

Australian Government: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Stem Equity Monitor

The STEM Equity Monitor is a national data report on girls and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Monitor reports the current state of STEM gender equity in Australia, and measures changes and trends. Read more about University enrolment and completion in STEM and other fields

Australian Government data – Snapshot of disparity in STEM

Snapshot Of Women In Stem

Australia’s talent pool is limited by the under representation of half of Australia’s population – girls and women – in STEM education and careers.

While participation rates in STEM education such as the Natural and Physical Sciences may not present cause for concern at the surface level, deeper examination also shows underrepresentation of women in more specific fields of education such as Mathematical Sciences (37 per cent of domestic undergraduate and postgraduate completions in 2016) and Physics and Astronomy (29 per cent of domestic undergraduate and postgraduate completions in 2016)

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment also includes staff time series data including academic staff by level, discipline and gender.

Explore the national data – Department of Education, Skills and Employment uCube

Ucube Image

Recent data shows that more than 90 per cent of women at university or TAFE are studying for qualifications not related to STEM!

Across the board participation is not the primary issue but if you dig into the data available in the Department of Education, Skills and Employment uCube you might be surprised by what you find. 

Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE)

Sage Science In Australia Gender Equity

SAGE works with Australian higher education and research institutions to address systemic barriers to gender equity, diversity and inclusion. They are the only Australian organisation licensed to grant awards under the internationally recognised Athena Swan Charter. Explore the data and compare the gender profiles of university staff and students across disciplines.

The SAGE website is a wealth of information and includes a Resources page that includes good practice resources on gender equity, diversity and inclusion.

More than half of the Australian Higher Education and Research sector have signed up to SAGE. A 2018 report: Putting gender on your agenda – evaluating the introduction of Athena SWAN into Australia outlines how Athena Swan and SAGE are important for Australia. A summary of the outcomes and effectiveness of the Athena Swan Charter is also outlined in the 2019 Impact Evaluation report.

Advocacy and examples of best practice resources (plans, programs and initiatives)

Athena Swan Logo

The Athena Swan Charter is a framework which is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education (HE) and research.
The Athena Swan UK website is an excellent source of information for leaders and covers Teaching & Learning, Leadership & Management; Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, as well as Effective Governance.
The 2019 Impact evaluation report demonstrates the outcomes and effectiveness of the Athena Swan program.

The searchable Knowledge Hub provides access to higher education resources covering a wide range of topics and content by media type and theme.

Australian Academy Of Science Logo

The “Women in STEM Decadal Plan”, developed by the Australian Academy of Science in collaboration with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. It sets out a vision and opportunities to 2030 to guide stakeholders as they identify and implement specific actions to build the strongest STEM workforce possible to support Australia’s prosperity.

Women In Stem

Women in STEMM Australia is a non-profit organisation which has grown into a nationally and internationally recognised association for women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). Their core purpose is to advocate for gender equity and equality in Australia’s STEMM sectors, and support initiatives that drive change in the workplace and learning space, engage on gender equity in STEMM, whilst upholding core values such as respect and scientific excellence

Reconciliation Australia

Reconciliation Australia is an independent not-for profit organisation, the lead body for reconciliation in Australia. Their work promotes and facilitates reconciliation by building relationships, respect and trust between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

The State of Reconciliation in Australia report – moving from safe to brave report highlights that “fifteen percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to feel they cannot be true to their cultures at work; 14% in interactions with educational institutions; and 12% in interactions with government departments”


The National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium (NATSIHEC) engages with all key stakeholders advocating for change effecting greater access to participation and success in education and employment. The website includes a range of resources including a Mentoring Network

Universities Australia

Universities Australia  has launched its second whole-of-sector strategy to strengthen the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s universities in March 2022. The Strategy and further resources are available here.

The NHMRC also has guidelines for the Ethical conduct in research involving ATSIS people and communities.

Government Of Canada

The Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) is a forum for sharing information, building consensus and making decisions on forward-looking initiatives that strengthen research enterprise, foster world-leading research, and advance the social and economic well-being of Canadians.   Current priorities and initiatives include: Strengthenining equity, diversity and inclusion in research; Indigenous research and reconciliation, and Supporting early career researchers.

The website includes several resources in support of EDI including a handbook for Best Practices in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research

Some initiatives of the ACDS in support of Equity, diversity and Inclusion

An ACDS Teaching and Learning Centre funded project has resulted in the publication of collated resources for tertiary educators about Indigenous Science and how Indigenous knowledge and knowledge systems deepen the value and relevance of science in Australia. The website includes background information, exemplar teaching materials, and resources for use in teaching.

In 2022 the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (ACSME) theme was An Education for all: Accessible, Equitable, Sustainable.

The ACDS Peer mentoring program provides support for new and existing deans in their role by providing an opportunity to exchange ideas and engage in critical dialogue with a member of the ACDS Executive, or another experienced leader in a similar role from an ACDS member university

Initiatives of member Faculties of Science in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in University Science include:
Mentoring programs that include senior women and indigenous mentors, including promotion mentoring programs; Flexible work arrangements and family-friendly formal meeting times; Women-only and indigenous-only appointments; Continual monitoring of data , and celebrating improvements in diversity; EDI as a standing item on Faculty executive meeting agendas; Women and indigenous role models to inspire girls in high school to study science; Inclusive recruitment and promotion processes that recognize a diverse range of achievements (and Faculty awards that emphasize the importance of this); Representation on committees and in documents eg marketing brochures that is consistent with (not over or under) the representation in the relevant Faculty or School.

We welcome members to add to this list.