Gender Equity at NHMRC Administering Institutions

Outcomes of NHMRC’s Review of Administering Institutions’ Gender Equity Policies

To be eligible to administer NHMRC funds, NHMRC Administering Institutions now must have policies and procedures in place to meet the following seven gender equity requirements:

  1. An institutional strategy that addresses the underrepresentation of women in senior positons in relevant strategic/corporate plans. This strategy should be reviewed frequently to ensure that it is effective and relevant.
  2. Mentoring and skills training strategies that promote and seek to increase women’s participation.
  3. The provision of parental/maternity leave and carers leave, and transitional support to encourage return to work.
  4. Working arrangements that cater for individuals with caring responsibilities.
  5. Remuneration equity between men and women with the same responsibilities.
  6. Employment strategies that encourage the recruitment, retention and progression of women in health and medical research.
  7. Strategies to address the need for the provision of support for childcare.

NHMRC acknowledges that institutions vary in size and capacity to fully implement some of these requirements and that ‘one size does not fit all’ for gender equity policies.

In late 2015, NHMRC wrote to Administering Institutions asking that they provide a submission that addresses these seven requirements.  Responses were received from 100% of Administering Institutions. The number of requirements met by Administering Institutions was encouraging with 80% meeting six or seven requirements.  Results are displayed in Table 1.

Table 1: NHMRC’s gender equity policy requirement outcomes

Result Category Number of Requirements Met Number of Administering Institutions in this Category
Poor 0-1 0 (0%)
Needs Development 2-3 3 (4%)
Fair-Good 4-5 13 (16%)
Very Good-Excellent 6-7 66 (80%)

Administering Institutions that received a Needs Development rating are required to continue developing their gender equity strategies and report back to NHMRC. 

Better practice examples

From the submissions, NHMRC has compiled a sample of better practice examples of policies currently being employed by institutions. The Athena SWAN pilot was frequently mentioned in submissions and a number of the better practice examples listed in the link below were implemented by Administering Institutions participating in the Athena SWAN pilot.  The examples are illustrative, not exhaustive, with many Administering Institutions describing innovative strategies.


In 2015, NHMRC revised its Administering Institution Policy to include measures to address the underrepresentation of women at senior levels in health and medical research in Australia.

To assist Administering Institutions as they developed their institutional policies, NHMRC compiled the following examples.