On International Women’s Day, Griffith University acknowledges its role in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce.

The University congratulates Associate Professor Cheryl Desha after she received the2020 International Women’s Day Individual Champion of Change Award at the Public Safety and Associate Agencies’ International Women’s Day event in Brisbane.

Award winner Associate Professor Cheryl Desha and Dr Allison Rifai, who was Highly Commended.

Associate Professor Desha was recognised for her excellent work in the disaster management sector as an active champion for change and praised the work of all those nominated.

“All the finalists have achieved significant change for community resilience and it has been a privilege to hear their stories,” she said when accepting the award.

Associate Professor Desha is a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering graduate from Griffith who returned to her alma mater to spearhead the development of the university’s newest building alongside Griffith Sciences colleague Stephen Boyd. From concept to reality, the landmark project has taken three years and will be officially opened soon.

Griffith University Vice Chancellor and President Professor Carolyn Evans said women were instrumental to the university’s success and the appointment and support of women at every stage of their career was a priority.

Professor Carolyn Evans

Vice Chancellor Professor Carolyn Evans

“At Griffith, we want to foster an inclusive working environment where it’s common to see women in all leadership roles across the organisation and where we reap the very real benefits of having diverse voices and opinions,” Professor Evans said.

Moving toward that goal, the Queensland College of Art has just announced its first female director in its 139 year history.

Professor Elisabeth Findlay says being the first woman in the job is significant.

“I hope to be a role model for other women in the arts who aspire to leadership roles,” Professor Findlay said.

In the past 12 months, Griffith has introduced a range of measures to guarantee a more equitable working environment.

Some of these measures include introducing pro-rata paid parental leave for employees with less than 12 months continuous service and prioritising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women for the university’s Women in Leadership program.

In Sciences, Dean (Research) and Equity Champion Professor Rebecca Ford is targeting female appointments in historically male-dominated areas.

“The way we’re doing that is through things like putting different wording into our position descriptions so that females realise this is a good place to come and work,” Professor Ford said.

Griffith Law School Deputy Head of School (Research) Associate Professor Susan Harris Rimmer co-founded the Gender Equality Research Network (GERN) at the university.

“I try to visualise a university where there’s complete equality, or a hospital with equality or a city which is designed around men and women’s needs equally. We’re a long way from that,” Associate Professor Harris Rimmer said.

“But I think it really helps to have that creative, imaginative process where you think about what normal should be and you work towards it, and you don’t accept the current normal.”

Listen to GERN’s podcast The Gender Card to learn more about the network and hear about research from early to mid-career female researchers at Griffith.