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Professor Sharon Bell is an academic leader with over twenty-five years of leadership experience in the Australian higher education sector. She is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Culture, History and Language (2021- ) She was Interim Dean ANU College of Asia & the Pacific (2019-2021). She is also an Emeritus Professor at the University of Wollongong (2003-) and an Emeritus professor at the University of Western Sydney (2020- ). Professor Bell’s significant contribution to tertiary education and advocacy for gender equity was formally recognised when she was admitted as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in January 2019.
Professor’s Bell’s research and creative work has focused on two discrete strands under one theme: the position of women. Her post-graduate research in Sri Lanka was on the impact and status of the incorporation of women into the wage labour force. More recently she has turned her ethnographic gaze to the position of women in the academy, in particular to women in science.
Her numerous leadership roles have enabled her to utilise her diplomatic skills and knowledge of the importance of cultural protocols to extend her networks in Indonesia, China and India. She has worked successfully with DFAT officials and Heads of State in Sri Lanka and Timor Leste. In collaboration with His Excellency Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão she facilitated capacity building in Timor Leste and Eastern Indonesia through the initiation of the Tri-Lateral University Roundtable: Timor-Leste, East Indonesia and Northern Australia. The aim of the Roundtable is for regional universities to play an active role to ensure that ‘…no country, no community, no island is left behind’. (Gusmão, May 2014)
Professor Bell is recognised for her thought leadership and scholarship on higher education in Australia, in particular on university engagement and civic responsibility, most recently as a keynote speaker at Engagement Australia national conferences and as an invited participant to the Global Universities Engagement Summit, University of Manchester (September 2019).
Before taking on senior university leadership roles Sharon was a member of Film Australia's Ethnographic Film Unit (1986-1989) and Head of Fulltime Program then Head of Studies at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (1990-1993). In 1999 Sharon spent six months in Sri Lanka consulting on the reform of performing arts teacher education for the World Bank. Later that year she was invited to return to Sri Lanka to advise the University Grants Commission on tertiary arts education through a review of the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, Colombo. That work resulted in the Institute being granted independent status as The University of the Visual and Performing Arts in 2005.
Professor Bell’s current research documents change, and the impact of this change, on women in the tertiary education sector and women in science. She was the lead author on an influential report on Women in Science in Australia (2009) for the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies and has recently completed an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (2011-2014) with Professor Lyn Yates from the University of Melbourne on Women in the Scientific Research Workforce: Identifying and Sustaining the Diversity Advantage. She also continues the research on post-colonial Sri Lanka that commenced with her doctoral studies in Anthropology.
Anthropology, PhD, University of Sydney
Award Date: 2 Mar 1987
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding › Chapter