ECU Joondalup creates new parenting room to help bridge gender gap

ECU Joondalup creates new parenting room to help bridge gender gap

EDITH Cowan University has created a “state of the art” parenting room as part of its efforts to tackle gender inequality.

An office at the Joondalup campus has been transformed into a space for staff and students caring for young children.

The room is named after the Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) charter, an accreditation program established in the UK in 2005 to enhance gender equality in science, technology, engineering, maths and engineering.

The university is one of 40 organisations participating in the program’s Australian pilot, run by Science in Australia Gender Equity, and is working towards achieving bronze accreditation.

Deputy vice-chancellor (strategic partnerships) Cobie Rudd said university staff suggested that a new, high quality parenting room would be beneficial.

It features a chair for breastfeeding, light dimmer, microwave, fridge, changing table, privacy screen and toy basket.

“It’s a really beautiful room; it’s probably one of the nicest rooms in the whole university,” she said.

“I think it will make a huge difference because it’s supportive, inclusive and very welcoming.

“Parents get a very clear message that this university welcomes staff and students who have parenting responsibilities.”

Professor Rudd said it would make it easier for staff returning to the workforce and for students to manage studies with parenting.

“It’s sending the message that we want people to balance work and parenting responsibilities, we welcome parents,” she said.

The university will investigate a host of ways to address gender inequality, adding to existing programs including unconscious bias training.

“It’s not surprising we are working to be a beacon for gender equality because that’s what Edith Cowan stood for,” she said.

“There’s a lot of things we have to do to achieve gender equality.

“We’re doing it because it’s the right thing; it’s absurd in 2016 we have a gender pay gap.