The (Sustainable) Future is Female: Advancing Gender Equality in Sustainability Leadership.

Organizer: Eleanor Robson
Format: Onsite-Online, Afternoon


Not a single country in the world is set to achieve gender equality by 2030. Of the 129 countries included in the SDG Gender Index, almost half are failing on SDG5 – achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Gender equality is recognised as central to achieving sustainable development. Including diverse perspectives – in gender, across race, culture, religion, ability and more – is indispensable for rapidly advancing sustainability.

Diverse and equal gender representation in leadership makes our world more prosperous and sustainable. Female leaders influence the extent of emphasis on gender equality in policy and practice and tend to favour the equitable redistribution of resources. Women are more likely to be long- term thinkers and seek peaceful and constructive resolution, rather than fight over beliefs and resources (Cribb, 2016).

The under-representation of women in leadership roles is a problem. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency data demonstrates that in Australia, only 17 percent of CEOs and roughly 30 percent of key management positions are held by women. In academia, women are more likely to remain at the bottom of the academic hierarchy, with lower salaries, fewer senior roles, fewer opportunities for career development and more substantial teaching duties (Dattner et al. 2019). While these figures apply to Australia, they are representative of a problem experienced across the world in various forms.

This session will see a lively discussion with Australian female leaders in different areas of sustainability research, policy and practice and at various stages of their career. In discussion of their experience and expertise, and in collaboration with audience contributions, this session will cover key issues at the frontier of:

  • Putting gender equality in leadership into practice for sustainability
  • The way gender balance in sustainability leadership affects progress on the SDGs
  • Reflection on the way that SDG5 (achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) can powerfully drive progress on other SDGs

Themes: Integrated Action for the SDGs, Sustainability for Who?