Gender Equity and Diversity Working Group

Gender equity and diversity strives to ensure people enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities, rewards and protections, regardless of their identified gender, age, race, language, religion, sexual orientation, work-life experiences and other personal identifying factors. In November 2018, RANZCOG appointed a Gender Equity and Diversity Working Group (GEDWG) with the objectives of creating policies and enacting processes that would improve gender equity, inclusion and diversity within our College. This was in response to a heightened awareness of gender inequities and bias experienced by RANZCOG members.

Over the last two decades, RANZCOG has experienced a significant increase in female representation in our membership. However, there remains variation in female representation at a senior leadership level. In 2017, 83% of RANZCOG trainees and 50% of RANZCOG Fellows were female, with female representation on the RANZCOG Council and Board at 31% and 14% respectively. Female representation on the current RANZCOG Council is now 50% and there is near gender parity across most College committees. Female representation on the Board has not changed over the last three RANZCOG Council terms.

Conversely, male representation is declining among RANZCOG trainees. This inequity within the O&G speciality has potential workforce implications. There is a risk that male medical students and prevocational doctors will shun O&G as a career option.

As a medical college dedicated to women’s health, it is clear we must ensure that our diverse membership is fairly represented within the RANZCOG leadership. This includes elected positions on the Board and Council, and appointed positions on RANZCOG committees.
RANZCOG Board recognises that having an organisation that is composed of men and women with the relevant blend of differing skills, experience, perspectives, age and cultures leads to more opportunities for effective leadership, stronger decision-making and better outcomes for our patients. 

  • Identifying and removing barriers to gender equity and diversity within RANZCOG
  • Ensuring our members have equal access to full participation opportunities across all regions and at all levels within the College
  • Engaging with our members on views of gender and diversity representation for RANZCOG’s future
  • Investigating reasons for gender and diversity inequity within our College
  • Establishing gender equity, inclusion, and diversity policies across all areas of the College
  • Increasing the representation of women in leadership roles
  • Supporting leadership training for all members

In the following months, we’ll define our steps moving forward by collating RANZCOG members’ feedback and suggestions. If you are a RANZCOG member and want to contribute, please get in touch via the contact form under More Information (to right, or below on devices).

Gender Equity and Diversity Working Group Communiqué

Every health professional has a right to work in a safe, supportive workplace. Bullying and discrimination of any kind have no place in any aspect of obstetrics and gynaecology.
With an awareness of gender inequities and bias experienced by RANZCOG members, in November 2018, the RANZCOG Board appointed a Gender Equity and Diversity Working Group (GEDWG), with the objectives of creating policies and enacting processes that would improve gender equity, inclusion and diversity within our College.
The GEDWG is addressing gender inequity within O&G leadership as its first priority. As one of the initial steps towards this, RANZCOG President Dr Vijay Roach invited all RANZCOG members to make a submission to the GEDWG.
The GEDWG acknowledges the technical challenges first apparent with this submission process, and the short timeframe provided. In response to members’ concerns, the submission timeframe was extended to ensure that all members had an opportunity to participate.
The GEDWG acknowledges and appreciates the many contributions that were received from our members.
Submissions made to the GEDWG contained some common themes and these are outlined as follows:
  • An urgency to lead on the issues of gender equity, inclusion and diversity.
  • The cultural, financial and business value of diversity within leadership.
  • The lack of women within RANZCOG senior leadership.
  • The recognition that gender bias and barriers have been experienced by both male and female members, with women more likely to experience gender inequity.
  • The value of gender quotas as a transitional tool to improve diversity within RANZCOG leadership.
  • The alternative approach of targets as a more broadly used tool, including by many medical colleges.
  • The need to improve flexibility and reduce barriers within College roles.
  • The need to publish and audit RANZCOG’s progress on gender equity and diversity.
The submissions made to the GEDWG will help shape the recommendations that the GEDWG make to the RANZCOG Board for the July 2019 Council.
The GEDWG is working towards a Gender Equity and Diversity Policy to be released in late 2019, and looks forward to continuing to improve gender equity and diversity for all RANZCOG members.

Dr Gillian Gibson                                                                                  
Chair, GEDWG                                                                                     

Dr Kirsten Connan
Deputy Chair, GEDWG
On behalf of the GEDWG

Message issued on behalf of RANZCOG President and Board

As the peak professional organisation for obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) in Australia and New Zealand, we have a duty to the profession and the wider community. Part of this entails training a sustainable O&G workforce that provides high-quality women’s healthcare and upholds the highest possible professional standards in O&G.
The College Board is taking the initiative to identify and address existing gaps in College policy and processes that hinder equitable, inclusive and diverse ways of engaging with, being a part of and contributing to the College.
The Gender Equity and Diversity Working Group (GEDWG) was established in 2018 to undertake this important work.
The Board recognises the leadership of GEDWG Chair Dr Gillian Gibson, Deputy-Chair Dr Kirsten Connan and the commitment of GEDWG members, as well as widespread consultation and discussion with the RANZCOG membership to develop an effective plan to progress gender equity and diversity in leadership at RANZCOG.
RANZCOG President, Dr Vijay Roach, and the RANZCOG Board, acknowledges that many of our members and trainees have experienced gender bias, discrimination, bullying and harassment in the workplace and elsewhere and regrets and is sorry for the adverse impact it has had on their lives.
The College recognises that there are systemic issues, within the College, in our workplaces and in our broader society, that must be addressed.
We reiterate emphatically our commitment to the principles of inclusion, diversity, kindness and respect and our support for processes to bring about change in the culture of O&G and medicine more broadly.

Gender Equity and Diversity Resources and Media

Who’s in Charge? Developing Leadership in O&G – Kirsten Connan

Gender Equality in the Surgeons of the Future – Hilary Liddell

Working Group Members

You can meet the Gender Equity and Diversity Working Group Members below:

Dr Gillian Gibson – Chair

Dr Gillian Gibson is a generalist obstetrician and gynaecologist at Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) and has a private gynaecology practice. Her special interest is sexual and reproductive health. She is Clinical Director for the Auckland Regional Gynaecology Day Service, which includes provision of abortion care.

A Fellow since 1997, Gillian has for several years been involved with College work. She was elected onto the RANZCOG Board in 2018, having been a New Zealand representative on the 9th and 10th RANZCOG Councils 2014–2018, a member of the O&G Magazine Editorial Advisory Group 2011–2018, and a New Zealand Committee member 2005–2011 including a two year term as Chair.

Dr Nisha Khot – Deputy Chair

Dr Nisha Khot is the Clinical Director of Obstetrics at Djerriwarrh Health Service in Victoria. She trained in India and the UK before moving to Australia. She is currently one of four Victorian RANZCOG Councillors and is a member of the Women’s Health and SIMG committees. She is Chair of the Maternity e-Handbook Subcommittee and a member of the Insight Committee of Safer Care Victoria.

Her experience across three countries and three different cultures and health systems has led her to question the lack of gender equity in leadership positions. Along with gender equity, Nisha is also passionate about achieving diverse representation in all medical leadership positions.

Dr Alison Fung

Dr Alison Fung is a maternal fetal medicine (MFM) subspecialist at the Mercy Hospital for Women. She has been a Victorian Councillor on the RANZCOG College Council since 2016, is the deputy chair for the MFM subspeciality committee, and previously chaired the Victorian Regional Committee for 6 years from 2012–2017. 

Ali is a surgical member of the Victorian Fetal Therapy Service that offers advanced fetoscopic procedures. She also works as a consultant for PIPER at the RCH.


Prof Caroline de Costa

Professor Caroline de Costa is professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at James Cook University Cairns. She studied medicine in Dublin, graduating in 1973, and later undertook her specialist training in Ireland, the UK and Papua-New Guinea. She was has a particular interest in the health of Indigenous and immigrant women.

Caroline has been a Fellow of RACOG, and later RANZCOG, since 1981. She has been a member of College committees since 1983, and represented the College on various NSW, Queensland and national committees since 1982, including the NSW Maternal and Perinatal Mortality Committees 1982–1999. She was part of the Editorial Committee of O&G Magazine 2003–2013, and member and then Chair of the RANZCOG Research Foundation 2008–2013. Caroline is currently Editor-in-Chief of ANZJOG, Honorary Curator of the College Collection, and a member of the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Women’s Health Committees of RANZCOG, as well as being a member of the Gender Equity and Diversity Working Group.

Dr Fiona Langdon

Dr Fiona Langdon is a newly graduated private obstetrician and gynaecologist based in Perth. She is the immediate past Chair of the RANZCOG Trainees’ Committee and sat on the immediate past RANZCOG Council. Fiona is a mother of two boys, both born during her FRANZCOG training. She is a fierce supporter of trainees’ welfare and keen to develop strategies to facilitate and support women and parents in our trainee and specialist workforce. She is excited to be part of this working group and part of a College that is leading the way in gender equality.

Dr Helena Obermair

Dr Helena Obermair is a resident medical officer at Liverpool Hospital in South-West Sydney. She completed her MD at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney and her Masters of Public Health at the University of Sydney. She has a strong interest in women’s health and advocating for women’s rights and equality.

Dr Kirsten Connan

Dr Kirsten Connan has training and specialist experience in rural, regional and international locations. She underwent tertiary training and specialist practice at the Royal Women’s Hospital (Melbourne) and specialist practice at both the Royal Darwin and Royal Hobart Hospitals. She currently practises as the lead specialist obstetrician, gynaecologist, and sonologist in a multi-disciplinary private practice (TasOGS) in Tasmania, with a strong interest in pelvic pain, endometriosis and laparoscopic surgery. In 2016 Dr Connan was awarded the Telstra Women’s Business Award (Entrepreneurial) for her business leadership in this practice.

Dr Connan’s passion for gender equity and leadership development led her to being awarded a Master of Clinical Teaching from the University of Melbourne for her thesis titled “Gender and Leadership in O&G in Australia and New Zealand”. This thesis included RANZCOG members' views on leadership, gender bias and quotas use, and has provided invaluable data to support the formation of this committee.  

Dr Marilla Druitt

Dr Marilla Druitt is an obstetrician and gynaecologist in the regional centre of Geelong in Victoria. She works in private and public and is a Clinical Senior lecturer at Deakin University. She has a special interest in Pelvic Pain after a laparoscopy fellowship, was on the MBS review committee for Pain Management and on the International Liaison Committee for the International Pelvic Pain Society. Marilla is a Victorian representative on RANZCOG Council with the O&G Magazine Committee and Engagement Committee. She also helped design the #shegivesbirthyougiveblood campaign for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. 

Marilla has always been interested in gender equity and will be part of RANZCOG working toward an intersectional approach.

Dr Marilyn Clarke

Dr Marilyn Clarke is a proud Worimi woman from Port Stephens area north of Newcastle. She has practised as an obstetrician and gynaecologist on the north coast of NSW since she gained her Fellowship in 2007. She enjoys all aspects of work as a Provincial Fellow and is currently working in private practice as well as in the public hospital at Coffs Harbour and Grafton. She chairs the RANZCOG Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Health Committee and is passionate about social equity issues including gender, Indigenous and rural regions.

Prof Michael Quinn

Professor Michael Quinn was director of the oncology unit at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne for over 20 years and was responsible for teaching subspecialist trainees and second year registrars. He is past chair of the three most influential international committees relating to gynaecological cancer: the International Gynaecologic Cancer Society (where he introduced a gender equity policy), the Gynaecological Cancer Intergroup (clinical trials) and the FIGO Oncology Committee (staging cancers and data collection).He is the joint founder of AOGIN, ANZGOG and the Women’s Cancer Foundation (WCF) and a founder member of ASGO.

Dr Rachael Hickinbotham

Dr Rachael Hickinbotham is an obstetrician and gynaecologist who is based in Sydney. Her career in healthcare spans over 20 years. Before studying medicine, she was an Intensive Care Nurse. As well as maintaining a busy obstetrics practice, she holds a clinical lecturer position at the University of Sydney and is an active member of the RANZCOG NSW Regional Committee. Rachael believes that our profession has a responsibility to start talking about gender equity and also to be agents of change. She is proud that our College is one of the first to take on this important challenge and is excited to be a part of such a dynamic team.

A/Prof Rosalie Grivell

A/Prof Rosalie Grivell is a clinical academic and Maternal-Fetal Medicine subspecialist. She has held several positions in RANZCOG for the past 10 years and is passionate about the critical importance of providing broad and high-quality training to our future specialists. She firmly believes that as the College for women’s health, RANZCOG should be at the forefront of advocating for and providing equity for women in all domains of life, including leadership.

Prof Steve Robson – RANZCOG’s Immediate Past President

Prof Steve Robson is immediate Past-President of RANZCOG and has been a member of Council and the College Board for 13 years. He is passionate about equity and has been a very public champion for gender issues across his entire professional career. He founded the maternal health charity Send Hope Not Flowers and was inaugural Chair of the Migrant and Refugee Women's Health Partnership.

Dr Talat Uppal

Dr Talat Uppal is a Sydney-based obstetrician and gynaecologist. She is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology at Northern Medical School, University of Sydney; and a Fellow of the Australian Association for Quality in Health Care and the Australasian College of Health Service Management. In College governance matters, Talat is past Chair of the NSW State Reference Committee and the NSW RANZCOG Education Subcommittee; as well as Clinical Co-Coordinator of Diploma (DRANZCOG) OSCE examination. She received the RANZCOG conspicuous service medal in 2018.

Talat is fluent in three languages and has much overseas exposure with volunteer teaching work. She believes that to achieve gender equity we need to embrace diversity at all levels; making untapped potential visible. A topic close to her heart, she is proud to be part of RANZCOG’s vision to be a proactive agent of good change. It is great that this is such a topical issue now. ‘Better tomorrows’ start with having a discussion today.

Dr Vijay Roach – RANZCOG’s President

Dr Vijay Roach is a Visiting Medical Officer in obstetrics and gynaecology in both public and private practice in Sydney. His first role with the College was as Chair of the NSW Training and Accreditation Committee 20 years ago, a position that he held for nine years. He has been Chair of several College Committees, including the Training and Accreditation Committee and Continuing Professional Development Committee.

Vijay is the former Chair of the Gidget Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation promoting the importance of emotional wellbeing among expectant and new parents. Vijay was elected President in 2018, having previously served three terms on the RANZCOG Board.



RANZCOG Gender Equity and Diversity Report

Download the RANZCOG Gender Equity and Diversity Report

More information

Please contact:

Sabrina Hanna, Manager, Office of the President and CEO
Phone: +61 3 9412 2983

Bec McPhee, Executive Officer, Office of the President and CEO
Phone: +61 3 9412 2905



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