Gender Diversity

Gender Diversity and Inclusiveness for Science on the Swan


Health and medical sciences have long been blessed with significant diversity of thought, cultural background and of course gender. We are in a field that allows and encourages the sharing of ideas and movement to new fields and new counties to refine our skills and expertise.

Women outnumber men at entry to- and graduation from university in health and medical sciences in a ratio of ~70-30. This persists through Honours, PhD and the early to mid-career post-doctoral period (Levels A to B), at which point there is a rapid decline to be almost a complete reversal at the most senior levels of academia (Level E). For a detailed summary of the gender breakdown of the various STEMM fields visit the SAGE website.

The inequity in a system that allows this to persist is well recognised and there is a growing movement to proactively ensure diversity of all forms, and in particular gender diversity to remove the structural barriers to women enjoying the same career opportunities as men.

The NHMRC and ARC have increased their commitments to ensuring gender equity in their funding schemes. The University and Medical Research Institute sectors have embraced the Athena Swan or Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative to promote gender equity in their own workplaces.

The Science on the Swan conference is committed to ensuring gender equity and inclusivity on its organising committee and in the range of invited speakers as well as developing a program that recognises the challenges of attending conferences and managing carer responsibilities, a balance that disproportionally affects women.

We recognise and acknowledge that earlier conferences have not achieve the balance our delegates demand of us (Table) and that while progress has been made more work remains to be done.

Gender balance in International, national and local invited speakers at the Science on the Swan conference.

International National Local Total Organising Committee
2015 15 (1F)
12 (1F)
9 (3F)
36 (5F)
13 (3F)
2016 13 (1F)
19 (7F)
10 (2F)
42 (10F)
14 (5F)
2017 15 (5F)
4 (2F)
14 (8F)
33 (15F)
13 (3F)
Number of female invited speakers and Organising committee members for the Science on the Swan

The Science on the Swan conference and its partner organisations are committed attaining and sustaining diversity in all facets of its program and organisation, including gender and inclusion of individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds.

We will work to identify and remove barriers to a gender balanced and diverse program by:


  • Ensuring that the Organising committee and its working parties are inclusive of individuals of a diverse range of backgrounds with goal to ensure gender parity within the committee members.
  • Actively seeking feedback from delegates on opportunities to improve diversity of the Science on the Swan conference and it’s organisation
  • Collect and publish data on delegate and speaker diversity


  • We will ensure a program that includes high quality speakers, from all health and medical science backgrounds, with an aim to gender parity across invited speakers
  • Provide access to child care for invited speakers for the duration of their attendance at the conference
  • Ensure accommodation options offered to invited speakers allows for carers and/or family and young children should these facilities be required.


  • We will ensure session chairs and judges (if relevant) will include a diversity of gender, age and experience, including ensuring gender parity and proactively engaging early and mid-career researchers and health professionals
  • Facilitating access to child care for delegates, at their own cost, for the duration of the conference
  • Developing a congress schedule that recognises the impact of carer activities on attendance.
  • Seeking feedback following each Science on the Swan conference from delegates on opportunities to improve gender diversity and inclusiveness at the Conference

Approved Science on the Swan Organising Committee July 2017.

Due for review June 2018