International Women's Day Special Issue

Shining a Spotlight on Women Researchers

Welcome to our latest special issue of Future-Makers, which shines a spotlight on Western Sydney University’s high-achieving women researchers.  

The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is ‘Inspire Inclusion’. Western takes inclusion seriously, and we’re proud to have held an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency for 21 years.  

Our commitment to the advancement of equity and diversity in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine is recognised by the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) programme’s Athena SWAN Bronze Institutional Award. The Vice-Chancellor’s Gender Equity and Respectful Relationships Advisory Committee, with help from the Vice-Chancellor’s Equity Fund supports initiatives which provide evidence for changes to inclusive policy and practice across the University.  

Every day, Western’s researchers embody inclusive research practice — leading by example  and forging a path for those that follow. This issue features not only the inspirational stories of research undertaken by our leading women, but also the journeys they have taken and challenges they have overcome to get to where they are today.  

You will learn about soil microbes, civil engineering challenges in Sydney, and cancer care for LGBTQIA+ Australians. You will read stories of midwives, of mathematical ecologists and pioneering Indigenous academics. Furthermore, you will be inspired by researchers who have balanced the demands of work and family to make concrete changes for the better on local and global levels.  

We hope you enjoy this issue and encourage you to connect with our stellar researchers. 

Professor Barney Glover AO
Vice-Chancellor and President 

Professor Deborah Sweeney
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President 
(Research, Enterprise and International)

A Message from the Chancellor

Western Sydney University is proud to be ranked as number one in the world for Gender Equity in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It is no accident or stroke of luck that positions us as a global leader, or indeed recognises us as an employer of choice by the Workplace Gender Equity Agency for almost two decades. Western has been considered, deliberate, and ambitious and these ambitions are paying off — for our staff, for our communities, and in our research.  

As the first woman chancellor of Western Sydney University, and one of the 18 women who are university chancellors in Australia, I am delighted to support women from all walks of life to pursue success in business, community, and family life.  

Since 2005, Western Sydney University has publicly celebrated the outstanding leadership and diversity of women who live and work in Greater Western Sydney through the Women of the West Awards. In 2024, the University will present the inaugural Women of Western Sydney Awards, an expanded awards programme that will now include recognition for Indigenous Leadership, Arts, and Social Enterprise as well as the Jennifer Westacott AO Woman of Western Sydney Award.  

I am honoured to have this new award named for my contribution to the business sector in Greater Western Sydney. Every nominee has made significant impact on the economic landscape of the Western Sydney region through their leadership and influence on policy development and reform, cross-sector collaboration, equity, and business.  

During my time as the Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia from 2011 to 2023, the organisation advocated for a stronger and fairer society through a more prosperous Australia, armed with the undisputable knowledge that empowering women to advance in the workforce would be a key element in achieving that goal. This vision is one that is shared by Western and part of the reason I am proud to be its Chancellor.  

The women researchers featured in this issue of Future-Makers are inspiring.  They are instigating evidence-led change that tackles the grand challenges faced by local, regional, and global communities. I know you will be as proud as I am of the extraordinary research, and the often life-changing impact in areas of healthcare, disease prevention, supply chain efficiency, construction, agriculture, ecosystem management, Indigenous equity, social relationships and more.  

I congratulate the women of Western Sydney University on their outstanding contributions to knowledge and progress. I have no doubt they will continue to inspire inclusion long into the future and for future generations of women across all fields of endeavour.  

Professor Jennifer Westacott AO

Explore the International Women's Day Special Issue