Professor Michael BlumensteinSchool of Software
Professor Michael Blumenstein, Head of School in the UTS School of Software, understands the challenges of trying to balance life and career.
As a working father, Michael is an advocate for creating flexible working environments where staff have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the world outside of work.
“In our school we don’t have any constraints for people in terms of how they undertake their work,” he says.
“For those people who have requested special arrangements, whether it’s dropping down to fractional appointments or engaging with the school in a way that enables them to pursue other activities, we make arrangements and accommodations.”
While the school’s commitment to work–life balance is already producing positive outcomes for staff, Michael believes there’s still more that can be done, particularly to support female employees.
“I think when we get to the next discussion point about what else we can do, there does need to be something in place that ensures we have a more structured framework,” he says.
To this end, he is now a member of the Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team (SAT), which is responsible for collecting workplace data and identifying gender equity issues across UTS in preparation for the university’s application for the Athena SWAN bronze award.
Thus far, the data has demonstrated a university-wide commitment to solving gender-based employment and retention issues. It has also highlighted weaknesses that the Athena SWAN program can help solve, such as the need for UTS to be more proactive in seeking female applicants for STEMM-based roles.
“There are many things that UTS as a whole has done well, including very generous provisions for leave and parental leave, and understanding the requirements of people who have carer responsibilities,” Michael says.
“However, in certain areas we do need to look at being a little bit more systematic, such as in how we recruit women.”
These lessons, and the broader opportunities that the Athena SWAN program will provide, are equally relevant at the faculty and school levels: Michael and his team will use them as a foundation for future workplace equity and work–life balance initiatives.