ARC announces gender equality action plan

The Australian Research Council has released its gender equality action plan, which is very good indeed, as long as you are not hanging out for early action.

The ARC commits to a bunch of observing and assessing activities, including:
* looking for ways to increase the number of women on ARC assessor committees with a gender imbalance

* “identify initiatives to improve “the diversity of researchers” at ARC centres of excellence from 2020

* review “provisions, requirements and management” of maternity and parent/partner leave under the National Competitive Grants Programme.

And if you think that last one looks innocuous, you did not follow the February furore when Sophie Lewis, then at ANU, went public when she was denied parent leave from an ARC funded project to care for her, and her (birth-mother) wife’s new baby. The decision was reversed, with the ARC making a weasel-word statement of the; it’s-not-our -fault and-we-really-care, kind.

The ARC also assures us it “works closely” with the National Health and Medical Research Council, “with regard to policy and best practice processes in gender equality.”

Good, the rARC might pick up some ideas. Back in 2016 NHMRC chair Anne Kelso said the council could “do better” on grants awarded to women. Since then council staff have worked hard on ways to obviate career-break obstacles effecting women. With impressive pragmatism, last year the NHMRC also found the money for 34 projects with female chief investigators.


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