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Equity, Access and Diversity

Committed to improving culture
Our goal is to provide an environment that is equitable and supportive for all staff and students, free of conscious and unconscious bias, with access to facilities, learning and work open to all.

At the School of Physics, we recognise the need for continuous improvement and are working to identify and remove biases based on gender, ethnicity or origin, culture, language, relationship status, pregnancy, sexuality, race, medical conditions or disability, age and political or religious belief.

A blue banner with the words Pleiades Silver Award 2020 overlaid with a pink circle in which sits the constellation the award was named for.

Advancing the careers of women in astronomy

The School of Physics is proud to have been awarded a Silver Pleiades Awards in the latest round. See our application (pdf 450kb).

The Pleiades Awards are bestowed by the IDEA Chapter of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

The Pleiades Awards recognise organisations in Australian astronomy that take active steps to advance the careers of women through focused programs and strive for sustained improvement in providing opportunities for women to achieve positions of seniority, influence and recognition.

Physics Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

In an effort to further our goals, the School of Physics has established the Physics Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee (EDI, formerly PEAC), which aims to

  • devise policies and priorities and implement actions to make the School environment equitable and supportive for all staff and students
  • raise awareness of equity, access and diversity within the School
  • promote transparency and expand channels of communication within the School and the University
  • provide advice to staff and students within the School concerning equity and access issues.

For queries or concerns related to equity, access or diversity please email us at physics.equity@sydney.edu.au.

If you would prefer to report an issue anonymously, you can submit it via the EDI Report Form.

Our initiatives

We have adopted a set of local Provisions as a first step in establishing processes to help us to provide an environment for learning and working where our students, staff and visitors feel comfortable and included.

Our provisions include:

  • Wherever possible school meetings will be scheduled during family-friendly core hours from 10am to 2pm.
  • All school positions will be offered with a part-time/job share option and with a flexible time basis.
  • We have adopted the university-wide gender targets of 40 per cent women at level E and 45 per cent at level D, with a target date of 2025.
  • We have set the additional target of an average of at least 40 per cent women for new appointments to continuing academic positions.
  • Short-lists for all positions will have a target of 40 per cent women and 25 per cent culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) candidates.
  • Short-lists for all positions will include at least the top-ranked female and CALD applicants.
  • All conferences and workshops led and organised by Physics staff will actively ensure female and CALD staff and students are represented as speakers, invited speakers and LOC/SOC members.
  • We expect women and CALD staff to be represented on all school committees at least in proportion to their fraction within the group from which members of that committee are drawn.
  • We will seek to ensure that every academic and professional people manager, selection panel member, involved in recruitment or promotion processes, and other decision makers to complete unconscious bias training, preferably prior to taking on their role. 

We have also initiated a variety of other programs:

  • In late 2014, we conducted an online survey of our staff and postgraduate students, collecting some demographic information and identifying experiences, concerns and ideas around equity, access and diversity issues. The survey results(pdf 1mb) suggest that overall the School is a generous and collegial place to work but there remain matters of concern to some staff and students.
  • In late 2015, we conducted a similar, but shorter online alumni survey, seeking out their perspective on the work environment and culture in the School of Physics.
  • In late 2018, we conducted an online ‘bullying’ survey of our staff and postgraduate students. The survey results(pdf 92kb) suggest bullying is an issue for some of our staff and students.
  • In 2015, we obtained permission from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board to offer the prestigious Professor Harry Messel Research Fellowship to women only (also with a part-time option) as a positive effort to attract women applicants and address the gender imbalance in the school.
  • Submissions in late 2015 for Australian Research Council Centres of Excellence have included commitments to offering academic positions in Physics at Sydney, leading to continuing positions, as female-only appointments.
  • We established an Eearly Career Researchers Staff Development Funding program to contribute funds towards attendance by early career researchers at external (non-research) workshops or short courses related to development of leadership or management skills, or equity, access and diversity in the workplace or in careers in science. Preference will generally be given to early career researchers who are women or represent a minority group within the School’s staff (note that professional staff may access support from the Professional Staff Development Fund).
  • The Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA) has instituted the Hunstead Merit Award, providing $5k top-up funds for up to two students beginning a PhD with SIfA, with one reserved for women and other groups under-represented within the astronomical community.
  • A parent/first aid room has been opened (room 104 of the physics building) and includes features such as a breastfeeding chair, refrigerator for milk/baby food, a change table and a lounge. A change table has also been installed in the Unisex Accessible Toilet (room 215A).
  • An Equity, Access and Diversity statement has been inserted in all unit outlines for undergraduate students and highlights our commitment to equity of access and opportunity and the channels available to report concerns.

Please email your suggestions for other initiatives to physics.equity@sydney.edu.au

Contact Us



Female First Year Physics students in 2023



Female PhD students in 2023



Female academic staff in 2023



Female Professional staff in 2023