Local profile: Lisa O'Neil and working for equality

Pushing for equality: Local women Lisa O'Niell out at her Hope Valley property with one of her horses. Lisa works at the Flinders University in the equality sector.

Pushing for equality: Local women Lisa O'Niell out at her Hope Valley property with one of her horses. Lisa works at the Flinders University in the equality sector.

Away from the hustle and bustle of town life, local woman Lisa O'Neill has her own piece of heaven in Hope Forest; but when she goes to work at the Flinders University, Lisa spends her time searching for ways to improve equality on a number of issues including women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine), people with disability, Indigenous equality and equality of men and women in the workplace.

Lisa has been in her role as the Flinders University Manager of Equal Opportunity and Diversity since 2005 and has also spent a lot of her time researching equality issues and how they represent in today's society.

Talking about equality to On the Coast Lisa said one of the big issues with moving forwards with equality is that we think we do it but, when we consider our systems (the way we think, talk and write), equal opportunity is not as imbedded as it should be.

"I am very passionate about what i do, i truly believe that we all deserve the same equality of opportunity," she said. "We actually have to do things to balance the power. From a very young age I've been a champion of the underdog.

"I can remember when I was still a teenager taking on 6ft plus young men because they were picking on someone - so this (her job) is very fitting with the sort of person I am."

Lisa added that being heard is one of the biggest challenges she has faced in the workplace because many people think they have already got equality under control.

"Even women sometimes don't see the barriers and then it comes time to have a family and suddenly the barriers are obvious - the career break can cause interruption in career trajectory," she said.

"Many women now leave starting a family until later in life in order to build their career first."

One of the greatest achievements in her career is the current project she is working on, which is applying for the Athena SWAN Bronze Award accreditation program.

"We won't know whether our application is successful until later this year after it has been assessed.

"It's an achievement because so many people in Australia are working together towards addressing barriers for women in STEMM - the University may or may not achieve Bronze accreditation in this award round, but we will have an Action Plan that we will be implementing to begin addressing some of the barriers our data analysis has identified.

"So for me, this is a wonderful outcome."

The Athena SWAN program was developed to encourage, recognise, and advance the careers of women in academia and eventually expanded to dealing with a large range of people dealing with equality in the workplace. Through the installment of the program, institutions are able to develop methods which help to prevent minority groups from becoming marginalised in the workplace.