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Gender Balance on University Committees

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) The equal participation of women and men on all committees is fundamental to the achievement of gender equality in the workplace and contributes to the richness of diversity in decision-making. The University supports the implementation of the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 which requires the University to eliminate structural and attitudinal barriers that affect women and men in employment, and to introduce special measures which promote and encourage gender equality in the workplace.

(2) As part of its commitment to gender equality the University affirms the need to ensure that there is gender balance on all committees with specific attention to women's rate of representation on senior decision-making committees.

Section 2 - Definitions

Part A - Committees

(3) This policy applies to all committees and sub-committees, including committees established to undertake reviews, advisory groups, task forces, working groups and reference groups.

(4) 'Decision-making committees' include but are not limited to the Board of Trustees and Board of Trustees Committees, Academic Senate and Academic Senate Standing Committees, Research and Workload Committees.

(5) 'Local' committees include selection committees, academic development program committees and promotion committees.

Part B - Committee Members

(6) 'Appointed' members are determined within a committee's terms of reference.

(7) 'Elected' members are elected through the appropriate electoral processes.

(8) 'Ex-officio' members are appointed onto the committee because of the position held by the member.

Section 3 - Policy Statement

(9) The aim of this policy is to achieve equal representation of women and men on University Committees. As a minimum requirement women will comprise 40 percent membership of University Committees.

Section 4 - Procedures

Part C - Decision-Making Committees

(10) The Vice-Chancellor, with advice from senior management and the Director, Equity and Diversity will review committee memberships annually and identify those committees where women are less than 40 percent of the committee.

(11) Where a gender imbalance exists on the committee the Vice-Chancellor, or nominee, will discuss with the committee convenor the implementation of strategies to increase the representation of women as outlined in Part E.

Part D - Local Committees

(12) Senior management with advice from the Equity and Diversity Unit will identify committees which have an under-representation of women. In such cases, the committee convener will ensure equal representation of women by implementation of strategies outlined in Part E

Part E - Strategies

(13) At the first meeting of a new committee and annually thereafter the convenor will request the committee to review its membership to ensure that there is equal representation of women and men.

(14) Where a committee has less than 40 percent of women represented on committee the following strategies should be implemented:

  1. co-option of additional women members;
  2. seek women committee members who have relevant expertise from elsewhere within the University;
  3. seek women committee members from relevant professional groups outside the University;
  4. appointment of a female deputy chairperson;
  5. appointment of alternates of women and men;
  6. inviting women staff members to attend and contribute to meetings;
  7. examination of the terms of reference with a view to recommending changes in the composition of the committee which may include:
    1. limited term membership;
    2. limiting ex-officio member numbers;
    3. providing ex-officio women nominees;
    4. broadening eligibility to include more junior members of staff.
  8. where election applies, encouraging and supporting the nomination of women; and
  9. any other appropriate action.

Part F - Caveat

(15) To achieve the outcomes of this policy it is recognised that there will be some occasions where the 'elected' and 'ex-officio' membership of committees can result in a low level of women's representation.

(16) Some Committees have a small membership. Where the Committee membership comprises three members there will be at least one woman on the Committee. Where the committee Membership comprises five members, there will be at least two women on the Committee.

Part G - Monitoring

(17) The UWS Equity and Diversity Unit will monitor the implementation of the policy.

  1. Conveners of University Committees will be required to report annually to the UWS Equity and Diversity Unit on the gender balance of their committee's membership.
  2. Where women do not comprise at least 40 percent of membership of the committee the convenor is required to notify the Equity and Diversity Unit and provide information on the strategies that have been implemented to increase the representation of women.

(18) The Equity and Diversity Unit will report:

  1. to the University Executive on gender representation on committees and actions taken by committees where there is under-representation; and
  2. to external reporting agencies on women's representation on committees.

Section 5 - Guidelines

(19) Nil.