AAMRI’s gender equity, diversity and inclusion (GEDI) Strategy and Action Plan

AAMRI’s gender equity, diversity and inclusion (GEDI) Strategy and Action Plan

The AAMRI GEDI Committee has developed a Strategy and Action Plan in consultation with AAMRI’s member institutes aimed at advancing gender equity in the medical research sector. The strategy outlines actions for AAMRI and its members in four priority areas.

Download the AAMRI GEDI Strategy and Action Plan.

AAMRI’s four priority areas for action are:

  1. Redefining measures of success and merit for greater diversity & inclusion
  2. Enabling mechanisms for gender equity in advancement and promotion
  3. Addressing sexual harassment and promoting safe workplaces
  4. Addressing inequities in health research

The impact of COVID-19 will be considered in each of these four areas with the aim of continuing positive practices and mitigating negative impacts.

 

Priority area 1: Redefining measures of success and merit for greater diversity & inclusion

Evidence from a broad range of fields shows that a diverse workforce and leadership produces better organisational outcomes. However, traditional measures of success tend to neglect important attributes such as teamwork and mentoring, and discourage risk-taking, multi-disciplinary research and diverse career pathways. While some grant programs have taken steps in the right direction, a culture of assessing success using diverse measures is far from mainstream practice.

The Australian medical research sector should, and can, work with our stakeholders to broaden the measures of success in research and academia to be more inclusive and better recognise and reward different models of success.

Our vision is for a system that acknowledges and values the individual qualities and ambitions of medical researchers and enables the diversification of career paths.

We aim to get there by pursuing a sector wide approach to redefine measures of success and merit and ensuring sufficient value, including cultural significance, is placed across the whole research career pipeline.

 

Priority area 2: Enabling mechanisms for gender equity in advancement and promotion

While 60% of the medical research institute workforce are women, only 25% of Institute Directors and 33% of highest seniority research staff are women. Organisational policies and decision-making processes can contain inherant biases and discrimination. These biases create barriers for the advancement and promotion of women and other groups underrepresented at senior levels. Removing gender biases in organisational processes and implementing target initiatives provides an effective path to increasing balanced gender representation in senior leadership positions.

One key area standing in the way of advancement and promotion for women in medical research has been the lower success rates and lower levels of funding awarded to women through major granting programs. The medical research sector needs to commit to achieving equalitable funding outcomes for men and women.

Our vision is a health and medical research sector that systematically addresses biases and barriers for women, trans and gender diverse people and under-represented groups to enable equitable career advancement.

We aim to get there by:

  • establishing best practice in policy and process at a sector level by working with AAMRI’s member medical research institutes;
  • supporting the career development and advancement of women, trans and gender diverse people and other under-represented groups;
  • advocating for equity in the funding system.

 

Priority area 3: Addressing sexual harassment and promoting safe workplaces

In recent years there has been a significant national effort to shift to a prevention-based approach to addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. The Australian Human Rights Commission has led the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces and released their report, Respect@Work, in March 2020. The recommendations from this report set out a new framework that is focussed on creating a culture of prevention and a network of support for victims in all levels of the organisation.

Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, has called for each industry to lead their own response to the Respect@Work report and set a new precedent for safe workplaces across Australia.

 

Priority area 4: Addressing inequities in health research

How can we promote a culture of equity in the health research design and practice?

Inequities in design of health research have led to underrepresentation in research participant cohorts of women and other groups such as culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people, Indigenous communities, people who are differently abled. This inequity can severely affect the health outcomes of these groups when best practice medical care is based on studies in an all-male cohort, or a cohort lacking in diversity.

Research in health areas that specifically affect women and underrepresented groups are often vastly underfunded compared to research on conditions that affect men. With this imbalance in funding, research advances on treatments, prevention and risk factors in women and underrepresented groups will not progress, several impacting health outcomes in these populations.

Only a few Australian institutions such as publishers, funders, and research institutions, have similar policies and practices in place to those implemented elsewhere such as the United States, Canada, Ireland, and Germany.

Our vision is for equity in health and medical research design and practice resulting in improved health outcomes for everyone in the community.

We aim to get there by:

  • championing best practice in policy and process in health and medical research design through collaborations with groups working in this area;
  • advocating for change in research, funding and publication requirements.

 

Download the AAMRI GEDI Strategy and Action Plan.