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Headshots of six women combined.Headshots of six women combined.

Celebrating International Women's Day with inspirational stories from the women across RMIT Online

We spoke with some of the women across RMIT Online from different teams and backgrounds on what this year's theme means to them.

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #EmbraceEquity.

As we celebrate International Women's Day today we are reminded of the extraordinary achievements and progress made by women around the world. It is also a day to reflect on the persistent challenges that women still face in achieving gender equality and to recommit ourselves to the ongoing struggle for a more just and equitable world.

We spoke with some of the women across RMIT Online from different teams and backgrounds on what this year's theme means to them.


Dawn Gilmore, Academic Director 


What has RMIT Online done right in embracing equity?  

If we take a moment to reflect on the history of online learning and its origins, it was and continues to be a vehicle for equity. Throughout the history of higher education online learning has played a critical role in widening access and participation – especially for traditionally underrepresented cohorts studying at university. Today, women continue to make up most of the mature age student cohort who chose to study online [and part-time] to fit study in with paid work, family, and caring responsibilities. RMITO enables this by advocating for and delivering on purposeful online design and online facilitation. 


Joyce Seitzinger, Director SX Innovation 


What does equity in the workplace mean to you? 

Equity in the workplace to me means that despite the fact that team members may have different needs and experiences, the organisation has already arranged itself to meet those different needs and experiences and ensure no team member is disadvantaged. Some organisations say they are flexible and when an individual asks for their needs to be met, they will arrange it. That is good but it still puts the onus of the ask on that individual - and often also co-opts that team member into having to think about the solution, on top of their regular duties. This is where I think a great workplace really stands out - they pre-empt the ask. 


Is there any advice you would give to other women? 

Find your people!! Actively seek out and build relationships with other women in your workplace AND outside of your workplace, as well as other potential allies who support equity and inclusion. They will listen and validate your experiences (yes, you were not dreaming it!!), they can use their influence to speak up, they can amplify your voice in a tough room and they will be your support when you do need to advocate for change. And they will be there to laugh with you, when sometimes that is all that is left. 


Jennifer Morinaka, Student Success Manager 


Tell us about a woman you admire who has overcome the barriers of equity. 

I’m very lucky as I work with so many women who I respect and admire, however I don’t feel that women have necessarily overcome the barriers of equity because I believe we face these every day at large and small scales. I have seen women I really respect have their knowledge as subject matter experts questioned or shut down in meetings, then, in the same meeting I have seen a man repeat similar thoughts or opinions which are acknowledged or praised.  


What advice would you give to other women who may be facing challenges with equity in the workplace, based on your own experiences?   

My advice to women who face challenges with equity in the workplace is to share your experiences with one another. When I have felt that I was being treated inequitably, I found it much easier to come up with strategies to be heard when I shared my thoughts and feelings with someone afterward. Talking about these experiences not only helps us find ways forward, but also helps others understand when these moments are taking place and when they should step in to support us. I have found it beneficial to go into meetings I know will be difficult with someone who will help me create a space to be heard. Someone I can trust who is willing to say, “Jenn makes a very good point” or “I trust Jenn on this given her experience in this space”. Finding people who will support us, talking about our experiences, and paying it forward to others by creating safe spaces is how we will continue to battle inequity!  


Gayathri Kurukulasuriya, People Development Consultant 


What has RMIT Online done right in embracing equity? 

I believe there’s a lot that RMITO does right when it comes to embracing equity! As a mom of two little boys, having flexibility to the extent that RMITO provides it has meant the world to me. It’s meant that I’m able to succeed in my responsibilities not just as a People Development Consultant at RMITO, but also as a mother (partner, daughter and friend). I’ve always felt that I have flexible work options available to me and am well supported by my manager, my team and the broader organisation in terms of working flexibly – whether that means that I start my day at 0630 or choose to work late evenings on some days. It’s also been encouraging to see such a diverse group of highly experienced, skilled and empathetic leaders at our decision-making table at RMITO. These are a few of the things that drew me to RMITO to begin with. 


Anshu Arora, Marketing & Student Acquisition Director 


The goal of equity is to change systemic and structural barriers that get in the way of people's ability to thrive. Is there a time in your career where you've been given equitable opportunity? 

I was given equitable opportunity where I had a great leader that supported me to explore career progression whilst I was on maternity leave. My leader invested time in helping you get up to speed with changes in the business strategy and provided me with a career coach who helped me prepare for the role. 

Even though I didn't get the initial role, it opened doors to another opportunity that aligned with my career goals. I think this example helps to demonstrate how an equitable opportunity lead to a positive outcome, not just for me, the individual, but also for the business. When leaders support their employees and invest in their development, it can lead to increased engagement, productivity, and retention. 


What advice would you give to other women who may be facing challenges with equity in the workplace, based on your own experiences?  

Three things that I can share from experience for anyone facing equity challenge are: 

  1. Don't be afraid to voice your concerns and share your ideas. It's important to communicate your experiences and advocate for yourself.  
  2. Take ownership of your development - don't just wait for your company to invest in your development. Take ownership of your own learning and seek out opportunities to build your skills and knowledge.  
  3. Be resilient and open to opportunities. It's important to be resilient and persistent in the face of challenges, and if the exact opportunity doesn’t show, be open to others that might help you achieve the outcome.  


Rachel Francis, HR Director 


What has RMIT Online done right in embracing equity?  

Our flexible work practices are not only well received by employees but also remove some of the traditional barriers women faced around coordinating work around child rearing responsibilities.  They also make it easier for male employees to share caring responsibilities with their partners. 

Recruitment practices are merit based and consistent with equal employment opportunity principles.  In the last 18 months, 18% of employees on extended parental leave received a promotion in the few months before taking leave, while on parental leave or immediately on returning to work. 

We offer generous paid parental leave, and return to work support and a custom built leadership development program is equipping our leaders will the skills they need to progress in future. 


This article was originally published on 8 March 2023