Today is International Women’s Day and the theme is ‘#BreaktheBias’.
This is a good reminder to take some time to properly consider what days like this mean for all of us and how we can incorporate gender diversity and inclusion in the important work we do.
As Australia’s national centre for natural hazards resilience and disaster risk reduction, we believe it’s important to acknowledge the great work being done across the sector to support more diverse, equitable and inclusive practices. But we should also acknowledge and discuss the work yet to be done to reduce stigma and #BreaktheBias or biases that occur within the emergency management sector and beyond.
As a woman in a leadership position at a national centre – of which 60% of internal staff are women – I believe that Natural Hazards Research Australia has a responsibility to lead discussions, develop research and drive evidence-informed initiatives that support gender diversity, both internally and across the sectors we engage with. These discussions and initiatives can lead to more equal and meaningful representation of women’s experiences and expertise.
We also have a responsibility to call out biases when we see them, wherever they occur. While the Centre isn’t perfect, we work hard to cultivate an environment that not only supports women but also encourages and fosters an environment where people can speak up and be heard if they see areas that need addressing. We encourage all our staff to get involved in International Women’s Day events, including training, mentorship or professional development opportunities. But our work needs to stretch beyond this.
Our challenge now is to consider how we can see our values operationalised across the Centre’s activities, in big (and not so big) ways. Today I encourage everyone to meaningfully consider how we can improve ‘diversity of thought’ (including but also beyond gender) within the Centre in everything we do, in the ways we incorporate experts into our research and in our day-to-day interactions with everyone who works in or is impacted by natural hazards. This is a task for us to consider not just on International Women’s Day, not just this week or this month, but every day as we further develop the Centre.
On a personal note, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge how proud and honoured I am to work with such a talented group of women who challenge, inspire and support each other, and push for the Centre to do better. I look forward to developing meaningful knowledge and insights from research to support that.