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Commitment to Equality and Diversity

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Gender equality

As the only university in Australia named after a woman, Edith Dircksey Cowan, at ECU we are deeply passionate and committed to achieving gender equality as an educator and employer. We believe universities have a crucial role in creating a relevant and responsive workforce which is able to meet, if not subvert, global challenges by removing the gender barriers faced by aspiring researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs. Not only does this recognise basic human rights, it improves our ability to develop organisational sustainability and national and global economic growth.

The ECU Strategic Plan 2022-2026 Towards the University of the Future sets the direction and identifies ECU's strong commitment to promoting equality, diversity, and social responsibility as a key strategic priority. This Strategy captures our overall vision for gender equality and outlines our goals, actions and indicators of success.

Message from the Vice-Chancellor

Since 2015, we have embarked on the Athena Swan journey to enhance gender equity and promote diversity within our institution. This has tested our resolve and commitment; sometimes, it hasn't been easy, but that's what being courageous is all about.

The Athena Swan Charter has provided us with a framework to identify areas for improvement and implement strategies that foster a more equitable and supportive organisational culture. Our staff and students have helped us to navigate the obstacles and in turn, take significant strides toward our goals.

I am pleased to have seen ECU’s noteworthy progress with Athena Swan, achieving the Bronze Institutional Award in 2018 and all five Cygnet Awards by December 2023. These milestones are a testament to our collective efforts and impact and align with our namesake's trailblazing work to redress inequalities.

As we continue to work towards achieving the Athena Swan Silver Institutional Award, I am inspired by the passion and resilience of our community. Together, we are building a legacy of inclusion and excellence that will empower future generations at ECU.

More about Professor Steve Chapman

Message from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor

ECU is fully subscribed to Athena Swan; the only internationally recognised framework of its kind for gender equality, diversity and inclusion. We've embraced Athena Swan because it’s evidence-based and a data-driven approach, which allows us to benchmark our work against an international standard. A person's workplace experiences and opportunities are not always equitable, and this can be for many reasons, yet the research tells us that a gender-balance improves an organisation's productivity and profitability, including its ability to innovate.

ECU was proud to become the first university in Western Australia to attain all five Athena Swan Cygnet Awards. This achievement places us at the forefront of gender equality initiatives, showcasing our commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive academic community. This remarkable milestone positions us to apply for the prestigious Athena Swan Silver Award.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has contributed to this transformative journey. Together, we have made significant strides in promoting gender equity. Let us continue to strive for excellence in this area and inspire positive change within and beyond the University.

More about Professor Cobie Rudd

Athena Swan in action at ECU


Following strict benchmarking and peer review by Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE), ECU was the very first institution in Australia to achieve a Cygnet Award in August 2022 and now has achieved all required five Cygnet awards from SAGE – the highest number available.

The awards measure and validate efforts by institutions to reduce and remove barriers to gender equity, diversity and inclusion. ECU is the first institution in WA to reach this milestone.

Read more about Cygnet Awards

Meet our Athena Swan Network

The ECU Self-Assessment Team (SAT) consists of a diverse cross-section of staff who play a core role in developing the University's applications for Athena Swan Institutional Awards.

Learn more about the Athena Swan Network

Welcome to our Athena Swan Committee

The ECU Athena Swan Charter Committee (ECUASCC) was established in 2015. It is an overarching gender-balanced committee with key institutional leaders who provide high-level strategic leadership of Athena Swan.

Learn more about the Athena Swan Committee

Parenting resources

ECU currently has seven ECU Athena Swan parenting rooms at the Joondalup, Mount Lawley and South West campuses which have all achieved a 5-star rating from the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

ECU also has 91 dedicated Athena Swan parking bays for staff and students with parenting drop-off and/or carer responsibilities.

Bays are clearly marked in purple with signage that shows the ECU and Athena Swan member logo.

More about Athena Swan parenting rooms


Contact us

Want to know more about gender equality at ECU? We would love to hear from you.

Please get in touch with us by emailing or call +61 8 6304 3450

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