Today is International Women's Day - a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women.
It is a day to acknowledge, with respect and appreciation, the contributions that women make in every aspect of life. Today, as a community we ought to recognise and admire the past actions of women that helped raise public awareness of gender issues and promoted equality. Importantly, today we should optimistically look to the future and encourage opportunities for future generations of women.
Swinburne is marking International Women's Day with an event that showcases the achievements of some successful women in education and science.
Associate Editor of Cosmos magazine Heather Catchpole will speak about women in science and her own career as a science journalist. She will be joined by a panel of three inspiring women from the university: Professor Sally McArthur, Director of the Industrial Research Institute Swinburne; Fiona Graham, Executive Director, School for Sustainable Futures; and Sally Eastoe, Director of Human Resources.
They will reveal key lessons learned during the course of their careers and disclose what they believe are the key issues for women in education.
I am proud of Swinburne's commitment to creating an environment where all staff and students can reach their full potential regardless of gender. Diversity is a key strategic priority for the university and one of our aims is to continue to focus on the engagement, development and retention of women at the academic and teaching, leadership and professional specialist levels.
We are steadily moving forward. In 2010, women formed 50 per cent of the university's staff. In 2011, that figure increased to 52 per cent. Over the last three years, there has also been a steady increase in female participation in our executive level roles, and an 8.9 per cent increase at the senior manager level.
But, we have more to do.
Swinburne is developing a gender diversity strategy. Over the coming year we will seek opinion and feedback to help drive some of our initiatives such as the Women in Education @Swinburne initiative and the Women in Science, Technology and Innovation @Swinburne initiative.
I believe diversity of thought, background, and experience makes for good working relationships and delivers crucial benefits to our people and our students.
To remain competitive and successful we need to remain attuned and responsive to the demographics in our talent market. We need to operate ahead of the 'diversity curve'. How we think about work, define career success, manage career paths, design ways of working, manage flexibility and work-life balance are vital.
I take this opportunity to encourage everyone to join friends, families and colleagues in supporting International Women's Day 2012.
Professor Linda Kristjanson