CSER is very excited to help promote a new initiative by the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences here at the University of Adelaide! As of today, Higher Degree by Research students who are seeking parental leave will have equivalent support to University staff, providing them with additional support and time in recognition of the importance of supporting young families, and in particular young women, to continue with their studies and their academic pathways in STEM fields.
The number of women in STEM fields in academia varies by discipline, however 2014 figures reported by SAGE (Science in Australia Gender Equity), show that for Computer Science, the percentage of women in academic or research roles in Australia is only 22.1%. For Mathematics, this is 22.8% and for our Engineering fields, it is lower still, at 18.3%. We need to make direct change to our education systems to better support young women in entering these fields, so that we as a community are better able to see the results of their talent, and so that they are better able to make the career impact that they wish.
Within Australia, parental leave is a standard inclusion for the most common scholarships provided via our government scholarship program. While this is a fantastic inclusion, the provisions of our Australian Postgraduate Award, and its replacement, the Research Training Program Stipend, are for only 12 weeks of maternity or adoption leave, and up to 2 weeks for partner leave. Some other scholarships may not provide parental leave support at all.
With the expanded support provided by the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences here at the University of Adelaide, HDR students will have equivalent parental leave support to our staff – a full 26 weeks of paid parental or adoption leave, and 10 days of partner leave! This is a great move towards supporting families within the Faculty, and in encouraging young parents in their academic careers.
This new program is in addition to a suite of new programs designed to support diversity within the Faculty, including the introduction of a new Staff Research Support transition scheme, which offers funds of up to a 0.5 Level A FTE to support professional and research development for staff returning from a period of parental leave of 12 weeks or more, encouraged participation in the University of Adelaide ALLY Network to support LGBTIQ* students and staff, and participation in the #MadeByMe program.