'Higher education must stay the course on gender equality & diversity': Libby Lyons starts as Chair of SAGE

‘Higher education must stay the course on gender equality & diversity’: Libby Lyons starts as Chair of SAGE

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Libby Lyons has begun a new role as Chair of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Limited board, using the opportunity to call on the higher education and research sector not to abandon investment in gender equality.

Lyons, who is also the Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, said if the sector continues to commit to improving gender equality and women’s leadership in the face of unprecedented economic hardship, it will reap financial benefits in the long run. By doing so, the sector can also help Australia bring itself out of recession in years to come, she says.

“The BCEC 2020 Gender Equity Insights report found company profitability, performance and productivity improve when the representation of women in leadership roles increases,” Lyons said.

“The HER sector must lead the way on this issue. As education and research institutions, they know that Australian and international research proves that improving gender equality outcomes is good for business.

“If HER institutions stay the course on gender equality and diversity, there are not only financial benefits for individual institutions but a real likelihood that our country will claw its way out of recession and recover more quickly.

Lyons said the higher education institutions that have already pledged to preserve gender equality as a priority during the COVID-19 crisis and recovery period should be congratulated for their commitment.

“As a nation, we cannot afford to see a reversal of the hard-won gains by women in the HER sector, particularly when they are one of the groups most impacted by this pandemic,” she said.

Lyons is taking on the role of Chair at SAGE having served as Director of the Workplace Equality Agency since 2015. SAGE, an independent entity, works to boost women’s leadership in the higher education and research sector.

SAGE has also announced a new Board, with a host of new Non-Executive Directors, including Professor Marilyn Anderson, Dr Rosalind Dubs, Professor James Angus and Dr Bruce Godfrey.

Dr Wafa El-Adhami, CEO of SAGE, welcomes the new appointments.

“The extensive track records and experience that our new Chair and Board members bring to SAGE Ltd speak for themselves,” said Dr El-Adhami.

“I look forward to working closely with the new leadership team to achieve our vision of reaching the entire high education and research sector. This goal remains unchanged despite the circumstances we find ourselves in.”

Karen Andrews, federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology says Lyons’ experience makes her an excellent person for the role.

“Ms Lyons’ considerable experience and determination to improve gender equity in Australian workplaces will be of great value to SAGE,” Andrews said. “SAGE is an important part of our vision to realise gender equity in STEM and I look forward to working with Ms Lyons in her new role.”

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