Human Resources

Gender Balance on Committees Policy

Policy No.
Human Resources
Authoring Organisational Unit
Equity and Diversity Office
Date Approved
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor And Registrar

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The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Gender Balance on Committees

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

The purpose of this policy is to improve the gender balance on decision-making bodies at the University with the ultimate aim of balanced gender representation of women and men on all Committees and decision making bodies.

This policy is directly linked to the accountability of the University's gender performance and supports the elimination of structural and attitudinal barriers for women or men in the workplace as required under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2013. Its aim is to set meaningful objectives for achieving gender diversity at leadership and management levels, to ensure that all genders thrive and advance in the University community and their perspectives heard and accounted for.


"Chair" means Chair, Convenor, President, or person leading or establishing the committee.

"Committee" means all committees and sub-committees, including committees established to undertake reviews, advisory groups, working parties reference groups or any other committee, board, or panel including Senate, Academic Board and Faculty Boards, University standing committees and working parties, recruitment, selection and promotion committees, resourcing committees, consultative committees, official departmental committees and ad hoc bodies which have responsibility for a substantial policy or project.

"Co-opt" means to make someone a member of the committee through the choice of the present members.

"Ex-offico Member" members appointed to the committee because of the position held by the member.

"University" means The University of Western Australia.

Policy statement:

The University intends to rely on the Chairs of Committee to apply flexible solutions to ensure that there is balanced representation of men and women on all University Committees.

1 Membership of committees

University committees shall have a membership that is gender inclusive.

The membership of all Committees must not be comprised of more than 60% of a single gender. For example:

  • a 3 person panel should not have more than 2 people of the same gender.
  • a 4 person panel should not have more than 3 people of the same gender.
  • a 5 person panel should not have more than 3 people of the same gender.

2 Time of meetings

Every effort will be made to arrange for committee meetings at times that will not disadvantage or preclude the participation of people with caring responsibilities or who are working part-time. For example, the Chair might consider varying the schedule of meetings so as not to systematically exclude individual committee members.

3 The role of the Chair

3.1 Convenors or Chairs of committees are accountable for ensuring appropriate gender representation. Where gender balance is not available in the first instance due to members being elected or appointed ex-officio, the Committee may seek to co-opt members to achieve gender balance. The Chair of the committee will take steps to achieve gender balance in keeping with this policy, the University Policy on Conflicts of Interest , and the University Policy on Professional and Personal Relationships in the Workplace .


Strategies to achieve appropriate gender representation may include:

- at the first meeting of a new committee and annually thereafter the convener requesting the committee to review its membership to ensure there is balanced representation of women and men;

- co-opting senior professional staff members to committees, where appropriate, when the proportion of senior academic women or men is low;

- appointing or co-opting to the committee suitably qualified people from other discipline areas, or other areas inside the University, or, from outside the University;

- appointing a Senior Lecturer (academic level C) when a member of the professoriate (academic level D or level E) is called for;

- providing for ex-officio members to be represented by a nominee who will be a member of the under-represented gender;

- changing the terms of reference to limit ex-officio numbers and/or to broaden eligibility;

- providing encouragement for the under-represented gender to nominate for election when appropriate; and

- providing statements for nominations to committees and other advisory and decision making bodies, that encourages an appropriate gender balance. e.g. "Nominating bodies are asked to note the University's interest in striving for greater gender balance on its decision-making bodies. You are accordingly requested to consider nominating women as well as men."

3.2 If an exemption or variation to the gender representation on a committee is sought, the request should be made in writing by the Chair to the Director, Human Resources (DHR) in the first instance. The Chair will need to demonstrate what initiatives have been explored to achieve balanced representation.

3.3 The Chair will issue all Committee members with a copy of the University's Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, and the Conflicts of Interest Policy at the beginning of their term, and then upon each reappointment to the committee.

4 The University

4.1 An annual scan of committee membership will be conducted, with assistance offered to the Chairs of committees where gender balance has not been achieved.


The Associate Director, Equity & Diversity will work with Governance and Policy, Human Resources, Faculties and Divisions, Convenors and Chairs as appropriate, to collect data on committee membership annually. Equity and Diversity will monitor and report on compliance in Annual Reports and to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency where appropriate.

4.2 The University shall provide Information about the University committee structure on the University website describing,

  • the aims, responsibilities and composition of each committee,
  • the qualifications and experience required for membership,
  • information about nominating for membership,
  • staff development opportunities relating to committee membership, and
  • highlighting the expectation of gender balance as outlined in this policy.

Related forms:

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Associate Director - Equity and Diversity

Related Policies or legislation:

Academic Board Resolution 28/90

Senate Resolution 19/91

22 April 1991 Senate meeting addition (Resolution 19)

Academic Council Resolution 215/92

University's Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct

Conflict of Interest Policy

Professional and Personal Relationships in the Workplace Policy

Workplace Gender Equality Act 2013

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