Dr Willa HustonFaculty of Science
As member of UTS’s Academic Women in Science Committee, Dr Willa Huston is making a difference in her faculty. Willa and her colleagues have been instrumental in driving changes that have made the faculty a more diverse, inclusive and supportive place.
“The Academic Women in Science group is open to all women in science. It’s really a forum where we get together, we network, we identify issues and we work together to find solutions that we then propose to the faculty,” she says.
One of the group’s most significant achievements to date was lobbying for a change to recruitment processes within the faculty. The change required anybody involved in recruitment activities to undergo unconscious bias training, and for recruitment panels to embody gender and racial diversity.
The faculty accepted the proposal, and their recruitment policy has since been updated to reflect the change.
“Across UTS, senior staff receive unconscious bias training, but in Science that training is now given to anybody who may serve on a selection panel,” Willa says.
At the faculty level, Willa believes there is a genuine openness to new ideas that support staff members to succeed.
“The faculty’s always really positive and responsive, particularly if it’s something like a clear directive — we try to come with the solution, and then the faculty’s really supportive of that,” she says.
“More broadly, I think the university has a fantastic, really diverse culture. We do really embrace those principles of diversity and gender equality, and that’s one of the reasons why I like being here.”
With the introduction of the Athena SWAN pilot project in late 2015, Willa has been involved with the communications committee, disseminating information about the project to get other faculty staff members engaged.
One of the program’s most significant goals is to champion women to succeed in the workplace; however, the initiative will also encourage all UTS employees to engage with work, family and community in equal measure.
“This includes accessing caring leave, encouraging both men and women to take parental leave time, and making contributions to the community in all other ways as well,” Willa says.
“It’s really about everyone having a more diverse, inclusive and positive place that’s really nice and innovative to work in.”