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Gender Balance on University Committees Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) The equal participation of women and men on committees is fundamental to the achievement of gender equality in the workplace and contributes to the richness of diversity in decision-making.

(2) The aim of this policy is to achieve equal representation of women and men on Western Sydney University committees.

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

(4) The policy should be read in conjunction with the Equal Opportunity and Diversity Policy and the Recruitment and Selection Policy.

Section 2 - Definitions

(5) For the purposes of this policy:

  1. 'Appointed' members are members determined within a committee's terms of reference.
  2. 'Decision-making committees' include but are not limited to university wide committees such as the Board of Trustees and Board of Trustees's committees, Academic Senate and Academic Senate standing committees, and divisional, school and institute committees such as academic promotions committees.
  3. 'Elected' members are members elected through the appropriate electoral processes.
  4. 'Ex-officio' members are members appointed onto the committee because of the position held by the member.
  5. 'Local' committees include recruitment and selection committees, and divisional, school and institute committees that have been established for advisory, consultative or discussion purposes.

Section 3 - Policy Statement

(6) 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.

(7) 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.

(8) As a minimum requirement, women will comprise 40 percent membership of University committees.

Section 4 - Procedures

Part A - Decision-Making Committees

(9) The Vice-Chancellor and President, 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 membership.

(10) Where a gender imbalance exists on a committee the Vice-Chancellor and President, or nominee, will discuss with the committee convenor the implementation of strategies to increase the representation of women.

Part B - Local Committees

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

Part C - Strategies

(12) 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.

(13) Where a committee has less than 40 percent of women represented on the committee, the convenor or chair may implement the following strategies:

  1. co-opting additional women members;
  2. seeking women committee members who have relevant expertise from elsewhere within the University;
  3. seeking women committee members from relevant professional groups outside the University;
  4. appointing a female deputy chairperson;
  5. appointing alternates of women and men;
  6. inviting women staff members to attend and contribute to meetings;
  7. examining 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;
  9. any other appropriate action.

Part D - Caveat

(14) 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.

(15) 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 E - Monitoring

(16) The Equity and Diversity Unit will monitor the implementation of this policy as follows:

  1. It will request conveners of University committees to report annually to the 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.

(17) The Equity and Diversity Unit will report to:

  1. the University Executive annually, or as otherwise required, on gender representation on committees and actions taken by committees where there is under-representation; and
  2. external reporting agencies on women's representation on committees as required.

Section 5 - Guidelines

(18) Nil.