Human Resources

Gender balance on committees

Further information

Equity and diversity policies

The University of Western Australia is committed to ensuring an appropriate gender balance on its committees.

This commitment arises from a range of resolutions passed over recent years.

Academic Board Resolution 28/90

  • to request Academic Board committees to make recommendations to the Board on strategies for increasing the proportion of women in their membership at least to a level which reflects the percentage of women in the relevant section of the University staff;
  • to transmit to the Senate the papers which were before the Board dealing with the participation of women on the University committees and to draw the Senate's and Heads of Divisions' attention to the action proposed in (i), with the recommendation that they take similar action with respect to their own committees.

Senate Resolution 19/91

  • that with respect to its own committees, the Senate develops strategies for ensuring that the proportion of Senate staff in their membership is increased, at least to a level which reflects the percentage of women in the relevant section of the University staff.

22 April 1991 Senate meeting addition (Resolution 19)

  • ...and that Heads of Division be asked to do the same in respect of their own Divisional committees.

Academic Council Resolution 215/92

  • that in future elections for Board representatives to University committees the electorate's attention be particularly drawn to the University's policies on the representation of women on University Boards and Committees;
  • that the Nominating Committee be particularly instructed to consider gender balance on University Boards and Committees when undertaking its work in future years.

Improving existing gender balance

In improving the existing gender balance on committees, faculties and schools may wish to consider the following methods (among others):

  • Membership of committees to be open to limited term and fractional full-time staff.
  • In requests for nomination to committees and other advisory and decision-making bodies, there should be a statement such as, "nominating bodies are asked to note the University's interest in increasing the proportion of women in its decision-making bodies. You are accordingly requested to consider nominating women as well as men".
  • Information should be available on the University committee structure, describing the aims, responsibilities and composition of each committee, the qualifications and experience required for membership, and including a statement encouraging expressions of interest from women.
  • Co-option of women members – if a committee does not include any women, it should be required to co-opt at least one woman member.
  • Broadening levels of appointment – women's participation on committees has in the past mainly been drawn only from a small pool of women at the senior level. Research indicators show that this is going to change slowly rather than quickly. To include more women will require a loosening of this 'seniority requirement'. All levels of academic and general staff can make a significant contribution to the University.
  • Committees should review their membership criteria and consider whether in all cases ex-officio members are warranted, or whether membership could be broadened, thus making it more accessible to women. An alternative would be to include the provision for 'or nominee' more frequently, thus opening the way for ex-officio members to nominate women to represent them on committees.

Informal strategies

Training for women on effective participation in committees, and observer status for women staff in committee meetings.

The issue of the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Statement to all new committee members, emphasising the importance of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action in their committee work.

Committee meetings to be held at times which will not disadvantage people with family responsibilities.

Annual reassessment

It is suggested that the policies of faculties and schools be re-assessed annually, and the strategies amended as appropriate.

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