Gender equality in research

portrait of Kathleen Fitzpatrick  

On 25 October 2016, the ARC hosted the inaugural Gender Equality in Research Laureate Forum, bringing together some of Australia’s most pre-eminent researchers undertaking initiatives promoting gender equality in the research workforce.

The Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme includes two targeted fellowships for outstanding women researchers of international repute. The Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Humanities and Social Sciences) and Georgina Sweet (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Fellowships are designed not only to support excellent women researchers to further their research, but also to further the representation, placement and equity of women in research careers. The fellowships provide additional funding to undertake an ambassadorial and mentoring role to promote women in research in addition to their research project.

Ten Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellows attended the Forum to connect with other fellows, discuss their experiences undertaking the fellowship, share how they were undertaking ambassadorial roles within their institutions and beyond, and provide guidance to the new fellows.

The passion and dedication of the Laureate Fellows for making a difference on the issue of gender equality was evident through the innovative programs they have introduced.

At The University of Melbourne, Professor Joy Damousi has created a unique annual mentoring program targeting early-career women researchers in the humanities and social sciences. The five-day intensive program involves workshops on all aspects of developing a research career, including developing career strategies and enhancing career progression. It encourages the development of broad professional supportive networks and is open to researchers Australia-wide.

Professor Nalini Joshi from The University of Sydney has leveraged her fellowship funding to translate the United Kingdom’s Athena Swan Program as the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative. SAGE is designed to improve gender equity and diversity across all of the STEM fields. Further information is available on the Science in Australia Gender Equity website.

The forum also heard from Professor Sharon Bell (former Deputy Vice Chancellor at Charles Darwin University, and SAGE Expert Advisory Group member), an expert on gender equality in Australian academia. Professor Bell provided a presentation on gender equality issues more broadly.

The day was also an opportunity for the ARC to utilise the experience of the attendees to discuss gender equality in the research sector in the context of the ARC’s programs, and look at ways in which the ARC can continue to support gender equality for Australian researchers.

Feedback from the day was extremely positive, with one Laureate Fellow noting that it was a "was a great event, very informative and inspirational."

If you’re interested in the Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme, you can find out more on the ARC website.