Australian Universities 2016 - Home – Universities Australia Foreword from Universities Australia

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  • Australian Universities 2016 A report by Norma Jarboe OBE

    ‘In most nations, men largely occupy the seats of power.

    Relying exclusively on women to lead change on gender

    equality is therefore illogical. We need decent, powerful men to

    step up beside women to create a more gender equal world.’



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  • Published by WomenCount © March 2017, all rights reserved. Designed and produced by Graffeg.

    Cover quotation: Elizabeth Broderick AO, Former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Founder of the Male Champions of Change

    WomenCount is very grateful to Perrett Laver for its support and Universities Australia for launching this report at its Higher Education Conference, March 2017.

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    2 Foreword from Perrett Laver

    4 Foreword from Universities Australia

    5 Executive Summary

    6 Introduction

    7 Framework for action

    10 Governing bodies

    11 Women at the board table

    13 Balancing the board

    14 Chancellors and their deputies

    15 Key comittee Chairs

    16 Vice-chancellors

    18 Chancellor and Vice-chancellor teams

    19 Academic leaders and Executive teams

    20 Mapping women’s leadership

    22 Moving forward

    25 The Index

    29 Biographies of women Chancellors

    32 Biographies of women Vice-Chancellors

    37 About WomenCount and the author

    WomenCount: Australian Universities 2016

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    Foreword from Perrett Laver Universities are major players in our economy and society: transforming lives, making critical new discoveries and tackling our most complex global challenges. Through nurturing environments of creative and collaborative endeavour, they are driving radical change across a huge range of new frontiers. You only have to step into any university campus to feel the energy and excitement that defines these unique institutions.

    It is in this context that we begin to grasp the importance of women in leadership positions at these great institutions – from governance roles, to the executive, to leading academic positions across our universities. Not only is this about harnessing the best talent for these influential roles, it is an issue of primary importance due to the very nature and purpose of a university that depends on diversity of opinion in order to flourish. We are delighted to be supporting this piece of research that will set a benchmark for future reports in Australia, allowing us to measure progress against key objectives.

    Based on the findings of this report, the current Australian position could still be described as male-dominated, particularly at Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor level, but with clear and determined progress being made on many fronts. The broader legislative and policy framework in this area has made significant progress, as outlined in this report, with critical sector-wide bodies such as Universities Australia and ARC supporting Universities that, in most cases, are deeply committed to seeing more women in leadership positions.

    We would wish to celebrate that over half of Universities have a gender balanced Boards, with 41% of governing body members being women across the sector as a whole. It is, however, still the case that 85% of Chancellors who Chair these governing bodies, are men. It is also the case that only 25% of Vice-Chancellors – those in the most critical and visible CEO leadership position – are women. In 2004, this was 28% so there has been a slight decline of women in the top role in the last 13 years.

    The problems in the pipeline are well-recognised with a similar 25% of women holding critical Deputy VC roles and, indeed, only 25% of Level E Professors being women. With women making up the majority of university workforce overall (60% in 2014), as well as a majority of students in Australia (55% in 2014), there is clear progress that can and should be made if we are going to maximise the utilisation of talent and leadership potential across our sector, for the benefit of our economy and society.

    WomenCount: Australian Universities 2016

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    Libby Hackett, Dr Birgit Brandt and Janelle Entwistle Partners in the Global Higher Education practice at Perrett Laver Australia

    It goes without saying that this is an issue deeply important to us at Perrett Laver. Indeed it is axiomatic for all search firms that the serve this sector. Search firms have been able to make positive efforts in this regard but all of us have to ensure that our clients, and committees appointing candidates, work as effectively as they can, ensuring appropriately diverse fields, delivering on our collective responsibility for gender diversity.

    At Perrett Laver, we are committed to playing our part growing the number of women in leadership by supporting universities to identify, attract and secure outstanding leaders from the widest field of global talent.

    We are delighted to share in the learnings from this report, and in the debates that ensue, to discuss what we together can do, all of us, as we continue to ensure appropriate gender diversity at all levels within our great universities.

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  • WomenCount: Australian Universities 2016


    Foreword from Universities Australia There is a glass ceiling in higher education.

    The majority of students at Australian universities today – 56 per cent –are women.

    Yet from that high water mark, women’s participation declines rapidly. By the time you reach the senior ranks of university management and governance, women occupy few positions.

    While this trend has been known for many years, this Women Count report illustrates it starkly.

    One in four Vice-Chancellors and one in six Chancellors are women. One in three Deputy Vice-Chancellors are women, but only one in seven DVC (Corporates). Clearly, there is more work to do.

    There is some good news. The majority of University Councils are gender balanced, and a majority of Chairs of Academic Boards are women. Australian universities have higher proportions of women in senior positions than the corporate sector.

    But, overall, universities still have a long road to travel on gender equality. Talented women are missing out on opportunities, universities are foregoing talent and students do not see female role models and exemplars in equal numbers in the lecture theatre and laboratory.

    Universities Australia welcomes the Women Count report. It will serve as a benchmark to measure the impact of current and future initiatives. These include the work of the Universities Australia Executive Women group, which is sponsored by UA to foster cross- sectoral improvements in areas such as mentoring and unconscious bias mitigation training. They also include the Academy of Science’s SAGE Gender Equity program, now in its second year, which is underway in most universities. And, of course, it includes each university’s own policies and programs for gender equity and advancement.

    The issues are known. We have identified how to address them. Now we challenge ourselves to make further headway by the time of the next Women Count report.

    Belinda Robinson Chief Executive, Universities Australia

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    Executive Summary WomenCount: Australian Universities 2016 reports on the participation of women in the most senior leadership roles in the 40 universities that are members of Universities Australia. These roles include Governing body members, Chancellors, Deputy Chancellors, Chairs of key governing body committees, Vice-Chancellors and their executive teams, Chairs of academic boards and heads of faculties or schools.

    An index benchmarks the percentage of governing body members by institution and identifies Chairs and Vice-Chancellors. It was complied from public information downloaded from university web-sites during August to September and analysed in October 2016. As with any index it is a snapshot of a point in time but offers an opportunity for universities to compare themselves with one another as well as with the public and private sectors. Hopefully, it will encourage universities to celebrate their successes, share best practice and address challenges.

    The study shows that progress is being made in increasing women in leadership positions across the sector but that it varies by role and by institution. Reflections are offered on key actions that contribute to increasing and sustaining the representation of women in leadership roles.

    Key Findings:

    • Greater gender diversity in leadership is a collective goal of Australian universities and one shared with the public and private sectors. Australian Universities can draw on established sector and cross-sector initiatives to advance women in leadership. Various initiatives set voluntary targets for women’s representation.

    • Over half of all universities have gender-balanced boards with 40% -60% men or women.

    • Chancellors are overwhelmingly male. Only 15% percent of these roles are held by women.

    • Women are better represented as Chairs of key board committees. They hold 20%of these Chair