Diversity of Thought Blog

Why we need research to achieve gender equality

After over 20 years as a researcher, I still have to constantly sell the value of research, particularly when it comes to research on gender and the workplace. Here are some of the reasons I have received when the value of my research on gender has been questioned:

  1. Don’t we have gender equality?
  2. Women have already come so far, what else needs to be said?
  3. In my experience (insert individual contradictory personal story)…
  4. What about (insert opinion that has been disproven with empirical research)…
  5. I don’t know what to do about it.
  6. So what?
  7. Who cares?

And so on…

My PhD was on gender and leadership and today I am the Director of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Research Alliance. So I am qualified to say the following:

  1. No, we have not achieved gender equality. Only 22.3% of Australia’s CEOs are women. 22.3% of boards are all men. Research, evidence and data tells us this. Please visit the Workplace Gender Equality Agency for more statistics.
  2. Indeed, the gender quality agenda has achieved significant outcomes over the years. However, as research and evidence tells us, there is still a long way to go, particularly for intersectional equality. Without research we would not be able to really show both how far we have come and how far we have to go; as well as what needs to be done to advance the agenda.
  3. There are many diverse experiences of women, men and non-binary individuals in the world of work. Not everyone experiences the same degrees of disadvantage. We need to acknowledge our privilege and research helps us do this by providing us with more objective frameworks to contextualise our experiences.
  4. Similarly, it is important to acknowledge people’s opinions but, in the world of work, evidence-based decision-making should be prioritised. If your opinion differs from fact, evidence, data and statistics, let’s use these opportunities to learn and grow.
  5. The good news is that there is a lot of research out there that provides evidence-based recommendations on how you can be an advocate, ally and trailblazer. The 100% Project, is a great place to start to access practical and concise research on the topic of gender equality.
  6. Research has undoubtedly proven the benefits of equality, diversity and inclusion for all workplaces. Benefits are for the individuals and the organisation. But, most importantly, it is the right thing to do.
  7. We do. The 100% Project will never stop caring and neither will I.

Here’s to another 20 years of research and also, here’s hoping I can devote more energy to research and less time having to sell it.


Dr. Andrea North-Samardzic
Women’s Entrepreneurship Research Alliance
Deakin University