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Dr Lisa A. Williams has been appointed Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for UNSW Science, the first appointment of its kind for the faculty.

Dr Williams, a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology, joins Associate Professor Lucy Marshall, who holds the equivalent position for the Faculty of Engineering. In this role, Dr Williams will work closely with Professor Eileen Baldry, UNSW’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“This role signals the tremendous value that the faculty places on cultivating a diverse and inclusive environment where staff and students of all backgrounds can reach their potential,” said Dr Williams.

“The biggest opportunity is to leverage the momentum UNSW Science’s EDI Working Group has gained over the past few years. We are seeing positive shifts across the board, especially in areas of gender equity and representation of low SES students.”

“There is a strong appetite for further positive change; the challenge is to develop and implement the best practices and initiatives to see that change into a reality.”

After completing a PhD in social psychology at Northeastern University in Boston in 2009, Dr Williams joined UNSW as a psychology lecturer. Her research focuses on social interactions and emotion experience.

A commitment to gender equity is a focus for Dr Williams. She served as a member of UNSW’s Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team (SAT), leading a subgroup on career development. She is co-founder of R-Ladies Sydney, a local chapter of a global organisation seeking to increase gender equity in users and programmers of the data analytics software R.

One of the first projects Dr Williams will launch is guidelines to assist staff and students in planning events with inclusivity as the primary focus. She will also work with the SAGE/Athena SWAN group to help deliver UNSW’s five-year action plan on gender equity in STEMM, achieving gender targets of 40% female academic staff levels D & E and 50 per cent female professional staff level 10+. Another priority is to lead efforts to ensure students from low socio-economic backgrounds are given opportunities to access higher education.

Dr Williams said the new role will continue to develop and run programs to promote a workplace that is fair and accessible, and where difference is valued.

“I hope to promote a diverse and inclusive faculty for people of all backgrounds. I will emphasise the importance of leveraging research and empirical findings to ensure that we are engaging in best practice.”

UNSW Dean of Science, Professor Emma Johnston, congratulated Dr Williams on her appointment.

“The Science Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group has gained momentum over the last two years creating the need to elevate the Chair of this working group to an Associate Dean,” Professor Johnston said. “This is a very important first for the faculty and underpins the social justice, equity, and diversity plans in UNSW’s 2025 Strategy.”