This week has seen the launch of the first Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot program.

It is part of broad efforts to improve the promotion and retention of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The program is run in partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), and is the first Australian trial of the successful UK-based Athena SWAN gender equity accreditation program.

The Athena SWAN Charter began a decade ago with 10 universities, but has today grown to include nearly every STEM education and research institution in the UK.

Australia is the first nation to pilot the program outside of the UK and Ireland.

Thirty-two organisations have been selected to participate in the SAGE pilot Australia-wide.

The program rates the gender equity policies and practices of participating organisations with a gold, silver or bronze award and helps them to develop ways to promote and retain women and gender minorities in their organisations.

“Reaching gender parity in science leadership in Australia is really important. It’s about keeping our brightest minds in the fields in which they have the most potential to deliver,” University of South Australia Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Tanya Monro, said at the program launch in Canberra this week.

“Women make up more than half of science PhD graduates and early career researchers, but just 17 per cent of senior academics in institutions across the country. The loss of female scientists is a significant waste of expertise and talent and negatively impacts our nation’s scientific productivity.”

More details are available at the official site.