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Celebrating women at ACU

ACU proudly celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) last month, in recognition of the economic, political and social achievements of women throughout history.

Celebrations were held around the university. In Melbourne, the Family Album Exhibition was opened. Organised by the City of Yarra, Fitzroy Learning Network and the Brotherhood of St Lawrence in conjunction with ACU, the exhibition portrays images of families photographed by young women and their mothers. 

With women constituting more than 60 per cent of the workforce at ACU, the University has long made an effort to contribute to gender equality through teaching, research, and in professional roles.

In March, ACU was awarded a prestigious Employer of Choice for Women citation for the second year in a row. Late last year, ACU was announced a winner in the 2011 Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) Business Achievement awards.

The University has some of the most generous parental leave provisions in Australia with 12 months paid leave, and was the first employer in the country to offer that entitlement. Since the implementation of the maternity leave policy, staff retention has been 91 per cent. In addition, research awards are made available to female academics returning to work after parental leave, and women constitute 68.7 per cent of the workforce.

Professor Sandy Middleton, Director of the National Centre for Clinical Outcomes Research, said an advantage of working for ACU was the strong female role models and the support she has received from senior women at the University.

Professor Middleton, who was listed in The Sydney Magazine as one of Sydney’s most influential people for 2011, recently received $2.25 million funding for her landmark study on stroke patient outcomes.

She said her greatest challenge was combining being a mother with advancing her career.

“As a mother there have been periods when I needed to work part-time and also to study,” she said. “Even more difficult has been obtaining part-time jobs that actually grow my career as most senior jobs are often full-time.”