Southern Cross University receives Athena SWAN Award

Published 21 February 2020
Professor Spongberg receives Athen SWAN award Left to right: SAGE Executive Director Dr Wafa El-Adhami with Southern Cross University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Mary Spongberg and CEO of Advance HE, Ms Alison Johns.

Southern Cross University has been granted an Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award presented by Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE). The award recognises Southern Cross University’s commitment to advancing the careers of women, trans and gender diverse individuals in STEMM.

The award was received by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Mary Spongberg at a Gala Dinner, held at the Adelaide Town Hall on 20 February 2020.

Involvement in this program commits the University to a broad range of actions designed to build gender equity in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) and across the University.

The bronze award is confirmation that the University has demonstrated sufficient evidence that it not only understands the current state of gender equity, and the structures, systems and culture which contribute to gender equity in STEMM disciplines; but that it has a solid plan to implement positive change in this area over the next four years.

Professor Spongberg said: “Our action plan commits Southern Cross to providing a safe and respectful workplace, flexible work arrangements and to developing our women researchers in STEMM and other disciplines. Diversity is critical to innovation and as a Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) it is very important to me to promote diversity in all our research activities.”

Vice Chancellor, Professor Adam Shoemaker, is a Male Champion of Change, and chairs the University’s newly-created Gender Equity Committee. He has introduced KPIs in this area for each of the Senior Executive.

“There is no doubt that achieving gender equity is a top priority for the University,” said Professor Shoemaker. 

“I believe our strong participation in the Athena SWAN program will assist us to attract, retain and to advance our talented STEMM staff and students. Beyond the STEMM disciplines, we are equally sure that the initiative will embed cultural change which will enhance the development of the entire University.”

“Finally, we have actioned change across the University and  with the strong support of our HR colleagues – have embedded new attitudes towards gender success in operational plans for each work unit.”

The project was led by many people across the University. 

“I want to particularly recognise Professor Anja Scheffers, Professor Mary Spongberg and our Director of HR Services, Ms Sharon Farquhar for their amazing contributions,” said Professor Shoemaker.  

The Athena SWAN Awards panel noted Southern Cross University’s commitment to considering gender equity outside of the binary, and the ongoing commitment to equity, and indeed gender equity, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  


In Australia, Science in Gender Equity (SAGE) is owned and managed by the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. SAGE named the award after The Athena Project, a community-based endeavour in the UK to promote gender equity in the arts.

The latter part of the name SWAN stands for the Scientific Women’s Academic Network.

Media contact: Karin von Behrens - 0407725344