Today is International Women's Day - an opportunity for all of us at ANU to celebrate the remarkable women we work with, and the contribution they make. It is also a chance for us all to recommit to ANU being a place of opportunity, empowerment and equal reward for women. There is still work to do, but I am determined we will lead the way.
I used a speech at an International Women's Day function today to announce a major expansion of parental leave entitlements for ANU staff. The new arrangements mean partners can take up to 26 weeks of paid parental leave. We know that many women experience long-term negative effects on their careers and earnings as a result of periods of leave from work taken to care for children. Increasing flexibility in paid parental leave entitlements and supporting the role of partners in caring for children will help address gender inequality at the University, as well as helping new families support and care for each other.
Today, I also announced a new leadership program to support our female academics to advance their careers at ANU. The Academic Women's Leadership Program will provide tailored development support to individual female academics to grow their leadership capabilities and to strengthen the profile of our female role models for their own students, colleagues and the University community. Leadership doesn't only mean occupying a named leadership role. Individuals can become leaders in their fields of expertise, making them role models for our younger staff to follow in their footsteps, and they can be leaders simply by setting a great example in the workplace. More information on this important initiative will be coming soon.
A big welcome to our new Provost, Professor Mike Calford, who started at ANU on 1 March. Professor Calford is the University's chief academic officer and the senior deputy to me as Vice-Chancellor. He will take responsibility for leading the delivery of the ANU Strategic Plan, and with DVCs will be working to ensure ANU sets the global benchmark for excellence in higher education, research and innovation. Mike will be introducing himself around the campus in the coming weeks, and he joins us after four years as Provost at the University of Tasmania.
I really enjoyed engaging with the students and staff who came to my forums held this week. It's incredibly valuable for me to know what you are thinking, and it's important that you feel you can talk to me or anyone in the ANU leadership team about things that are concerning you. Keep the conversation going and join me for my next forums for staff and students.
Lastly I encourage you all to get out around the campus after dark over the next week, to check out the amazing projections on our buildings. This year marks the first year ANU is involved in the increasingly popular Enlighten Festival. We have food, fun and activities available for all, so enjoy it!
I strongly support the VC's announcement for ANU staff but am left wondering when there will be a policy across the University for like support for women students conducting grant-supported research. If a university's status is nurtured by the products of research, surely it has an interest, if not a duty, to provide similar support for these women whose efforts add to its status. If it remains that grants do not recognize, let alone accommodate, women researchers taking leave for family reasons, and absent support by the University, how can we expect to see women researchers reach the starting point for the academic careers the new policy aims to nurture?