School recognised again for positive workplace culture

25 Jul 2023
Professor Tamara Davis receiving the Silver Pleiades Award. Credit: Kateryna Andrych

The University of Queensland’s School of Mathematics and Physics has again been awarded a prestigious Silver Pleiades Award for improving inclusiveness, diversity, and equity in Australian astronomy.

The award was recently presented to the School by the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in Astronomy Chapter of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

UQ astrophysicist Dr Sarah Sweet said the award recognises the school’s enduring commitment to improving staff and student experiences.

“The School of Mathematics and Physics has a relatively inclusive culture and is actively taking steps to improve diversity in our workforce,” Dr Sweet said.

“The disciplines of maths and physics historically have been skewed towards a ‘male, pale and stale’ demographic, so to speak.

“But, thanks to ongoing efforts, this is now slowly changing.

“Here at UQ, we are working to create a workplace that is equitable, diverse and inclusive; that allows everyone to bring their true selves to work and helps them to do their best work.

“When we respect each other, and each other’s diverse perspectives, we get a richer working experience, with better performance to boot.”

The acknowledgement is on the back of almost a decade of work by the UQ School of Mathematics and Physics’ Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee.

Quantum physicist and committee member Associate Professor Jacqui Romero said the committee has been using an evidence-based approach to create change, including tracking employment and enrolment statistics, as well as analysing surveys.

“There are so many approaches to effective EDI, but one of the many things that we’re proud of is the recent women-only recruitment that we conducted,” Dr Romero said.

“And we’re also starting to apply an intersectional approach to EDI, where we also look at cultural diversity, and socio-economic class.

“Our goal is to make SMP an inclusive place for everyone.”

The team continues to listen to staff and students to identify new opportunities for improvement.

“Our work enables us to take a leading role in the wider UQ and discipline communities, by inspiring and resourcing them to undertake similar initiatives,” Dr Sweet said.

“For instance, our women-only recruitment features as a business case in UQ’s hiring guide.

“We have also shared the questionnaire from our bi-annual climate survey which we use to monitor workplace culture trends and concerns, to aid other institutions in improving their workplaces.

“In coming years we’ll apply for a Gold Pleiades Award to recognise these leadership initiatives.”

The full list of awardees can be found on the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in Astronomy Chapter of the Astronomical Society of Australia website.

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