The CCD Inclusive Research Network (IRN) was a group of academics, professional staff and students who were interested in creating a more inclusive environment in our workplace.
Our main objectives were to:
- Provide a supportive environment to educate and advocate for inclusive practices in academia.
- Communicate current issues regarding equity and diversity in our research communities.
- Encourage members to consider active and practical steps for improving equity in our local and global environments.
We hosted monthly meetings, conducted public lectures and shared information to encourage members to consider active and practical steps for improving equity in our local and global environments. In each session, we discussed a particular topic related to inclusivity, which can include semi-formal presentations, discussion groups and practical workshops.
In 2010, academic members of the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University, created an informal women’s peer mentoring lunch group. With the advent of the CCD, this group expanded to include students and post-doctoral fellows, creating our Women in Science group. The group discussed topics related to gender equity in academia during lunchtime and afternoon tea sessions. A wide-range of topics were covered, including: managing parental responsibilities in academia, being an ally, sexual harassment, unconscious bias, career tips and training. With an increasing profile in the Faculty, in 2016, the Women in Science group sponsored a dinner at the CCD Annual Workshop where Vana Webster gave an opening address and hosted a fun quiz about famous historical women in science.
In 2017, organisers of the Women in Science group broadened the group’s focus beyond gender to include academic and societal barriers that exist for different forms of social identity and to educate members about active solutions to these barriers. To recognise this change, the group changed its name to the Inclusive Research Network. In 2017, the IRN hosted a series of monthly session that were open to all academic, professional and student members of the CCD and greater Macquarie University Community. The topics discussed included: 'Hiring practices and quotas', ‘Valeria Aurora’s Ally Skills Workshop’, ‘(SAGE) at MQ’ (which talked about the Science in Australia Gender Equity group at Macquarie University), 'Women in STEM initiatives for academic societies', ‘Intersectionality and Privilege’, and ‘The National Report on Student Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment and Inclusivity in 2017’.
The IRN also hosted a public lecture by Professor Jennifer Martin (Director, Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science) entitled 'Unconscious bias and outdated stereotypes: How thinking shortcuts lead to bad outcomes'. This event was well received among the over 100 attendees and was helpful in educating the faculty and university about gender equity issues in science and society.
The IRN also encouraged and promoted greater activism in the broader community. In August, the IRN came out in support for marriage equality as a basic right for all people. We also had members attend the 2017 Women’s March, March for Science and the ‘Yes’ Rally for Marriage Equality. To ensure conversations about inclusivity can continue long into the future, IRN members also reached out to high-school students to inform them about equity and inclusion in academic institutions.
The network organised a wide-ranging series of topics for the monthly meetings held in 2018. These included a comprehensive overview and history of the #metoo campaign, the historical accomplishments of women in science, and how to achieve gender equity in academic societies and conferences.
Reflecting on the 2018 IRN Meetings, many people commented on the usefulness of the topics covered, and how it helped them gain new perspectives on a variety of issues:
- 'I've learnt how to benefit others by using your own power and privilege'
- 'The work-life balance session was very good, with perspectives from different stages of careers'
- 'The handling of #metoo and sexual harassment material was appropriate and sensitive'
- 'Discussion on practical things you can go away and implement has been great, e.g., time management proformas'