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Science Week: UNSW moves to strengthen women’s role in science.Read more for video.

Here’s a paradox. How does science move beyond the gender stereotypes holding women back even as it celebrates the particular qualities they bring to scientific endeavour?

As National Science Week started, it was such matters that some of Australia’s finest minds pondered at a University of NSW symposium celebrating women’s leadership in science.

 

 

scientists (from left) Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Dr Rebecca Johnson, Professor Emma Johnston and Professor Angela Moles. image www.goodgirlsgo.com

Stereotype-busting scientists (from left) Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Dr Rebecca Johnson, Professor Emma Johnston and Professor Angela Moles. Photo: Brendan Esposito

“There is a paradox,” Professor Emma Johnston said. Professor Johnston is head of the applied marine and estuarine ecology lab at UNSW and runs the Sydney Harbour Research Program at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science.

“On the one hand we want to let more women into the system and we know that we need to change the system for that to happen. On the other hand we want the system itself to be accepting of women who are not necessarily ‘super high caring’. We want them to be able to succeed in science as well.

“So it’s about increasing diversity. We don’t want to constrain everybody to work within the stereotypes that already exist.”

Scientists pondered the question of gender stereotypes at a symposium supporting more women achieving in science image www.goodgirlsgo.com

Scientists pondered the question of gender stereotypes at a symposium supporting more women achieving in science. Photo: Brendan Esposito

More than 200 women and men gathered on Friday at UNSW to celebrate women’s leadership in science. As well as an abundance of people who simply loved their jobs, the overwhelming theme was about supporting more women achieving in science.

A look at the figures is sobering.

More than 50 per cent of science PhDs and early career graduates are women. Yet, according to the Office of the Chief Scientist, only 17 per cent of senior science academics in Australian universities and research institutes are women.

Louise McSorley, acting head of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, told the conference that there is a 26 per cent pay gap between men and women in the sciences. And while women make up 61.4 per cent of science employment, just 27.6 per cent of key management jobs are held by women.

UNSW’s Professor Johnston said that alongside broader social pressures, “these add up to cause real bottle necks in the system. We have a very low number of women in higher levels of academia.”

Professor Angela Moles, head of the Big Ecology Lab at UNSW, said: “If you don’t have women [involved in science] then you’re really wasting a lot of amazing talent.”

The call for diversity is backed by Dr Rebecca Johnson, director of the Australian Museum Research Institute. She said: “An ecosystem is nothing without its diversity, and the same could be applied to science.”

Gender disparity in the natural and physical sciences at the higher academic levels (B to E) chart image www.goodgirlsgo.com

Gender disparity in the natural and physical sciences at the higher academic levels (B to E). Photo: Higher Education Research Data Collection 2012, Department of Education

UNSW Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla agreed. She said: “Women bring along a whole diversity of thinking – that lateral ability to bring across a whole range of ideas.”

Professor Johnston said that by including more women in science “you’re tapping into a different set of cultural values and different ways of working that can be beneficial. We know that diversity in the workplace actually increases productivity: it increases the rate at which problems get solved and science is all about solving problems.”

​So how can the current situation change?

Professor Moles said that a cultural shift in the roles of fathers “would have benefits for women, for men and for children”. “I’d like to see dads get more involved” in parenting.

She said it’s also about having role models: “It’s important that the women coming up through the ranks have good, positive role models.”

Professor Johnston agrees: “Unless you can see someone in front of you that you can identify with … you lose confidence, you lose the willingness to try. So if we don’t have women in science in leadership positions as role models, we won’t get the next generation of women through.”

And it seems there are changes afoot.

At the symposium UNSW Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs announced that his university had set itself the goal of appointing 100 female professors over the next 10 years. He also committed the university to involvement in the pilot Athena SWAN Charter program to promote women in science leadership roles.

This month the Australian Academy of Science is launching a two-year pilot involving up to 20 Australian universities, research institutes and government science organisations based on the British program, launched in 2005. The pilot will be overseen by the Science in Australia Gender Equity initiative, SAGE.

The program will require participants to collect, analyse and present data on gender equity policies and practices in science, technology, engineering and mathematics departments. Participants will also need to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement.

Those involved in the pilot will work towards an Athena SWAN Award at the Institutional Bronze level, which is a mandatory requirement for future Silver and Gold awards at the institutional and departmental levels.

In Britain, medical research institutes must hold a silver Athena SWAN award in order to receive research funds.

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Henry Sapiecha

AUSTRALIAN 2015 Women In Industry Awards finalists

WII_LOGO image www.goodgirlsgo.com

2015 Women In Industry Awards

The 2nd annual Women in Industry Awards recognises and rewards the achievements of women working within the mining, engineering, and manufacturing industries, and aims to raise the profile of women within industry, as well as promote and encourage excellence.

Australian Mining, PACE and Manufacturers’ Monthly are partnering to acknowledge the exceptional women who have achieved success through their invaluable leadership, innovation and commitment to their sector.

This is your opportunity to have Australia’s leading publications recognise the women who are driving change in your industry and – in doing so –breaking down barriers and creating new possibilities for the next generation.

These may be women you work with, women whose achievements are inspiring you from afar, or women who are providing you with invaluable guidance and support. Their achievements may not be creating headlines, but we believe their dedication and exceptionalism should be celebrated.

The accomplishments of these women will be recognised at an exclusive evening event to be held in at the Ivy Ballroom on Thursdays 25 June 2015. More than just recognition, the Awards also provide an opportunity for new business opportunities and network expansion.

WII_successful women pic image www.godgirlsgo.com

Australian Mining, Manufacturers’ Monthly and Pace are proud to announce finalists for the 2015 Women in Industry Awards have been selected from a list of impressive candidates.

The only awards program of its kind to encompass mining, manufacturing and engineering, the 2015 Women in Industry Awards aims to recognise and reward the achievements of women working in the industrial sectors.

The awards are all about celebrating women who are leading change in their chosen field and breaking down the barriers in what can often be male-dominated industries.

The program seeks to single out and reward women who have created innovations, driven productivity, spearheaded change, and provided social and economic benefits through their fields.

With over 100 entries, it’s clear industry sectors were keen to have its women recognised.

We congratulate each and every finalist and look forward to seeing you all on Thursday the 25th of June at the awards dinner.

BDM of the Year

Carly Bradshaw – Business Development and Operations Manager, Australian Dust Control

Emma Cook – Business Development Manager, Agility Project Logistics

Sandra Taylor – Tender Manager I&R East, Lend Lease

Employer of the Year

Independent Racking Inspections & Audits

Cablex

Excellence in Engineering

Cara Ryan – Office Manager, Building Performance Centre, Schneider Electric

Christine Charles – Head of Space Plasma, Power and Propulsion Division, The Australian National University

Claire Bianco – Engineering Supervisor, Cecil Park Plant, CSR Limited

Hayley McIver – Senior Process Engineer, Ausenco

Excellence in Manufacturing

Christine Morris – HR Director, Joy Global Australia

Michelle Vince – Group Range Development Manager, Blundstone Group

Svetlana Zatsepin – Managing Director, Coolon LED Lighting

Colly Galbiati – Managing Director, Soma Organics

Kamini Wijekulasuriya – Manufacturing Manager, Western Sydney Service Centre, Bluescope

Excellence in Mining

Kathy Zunica – Senior Geologist, AMC Consultants

Maria Joyce – General Manager, MEC Mining

Stephanie Hardy – Environmental Advisor, Monadelphous KT Pipelines

Gail Clamp – Specialist Mine Management, Rio Tinto Coal Australia

Industry Advocacy

Irina Lindquist – Healthcare Solution Architect, Schneider Electric

Carli Hobbs – General Manager, Gladstone Engineering Alliance

Christine Katic – Operations Manager, BOC Limited

Elizabeth Lewis-Gray – Chairman, Austmine

Jill Follington – Executive (founding) Director, Industry Mid North Coast

Kym Clarke – Founder and Director, She’s Empowered

Suzanne Daubney – Managing Director, Bannister Downs Dairy

Mentor of the Year

Ashlea Walley – VTEC Mentor/ DSG Program Coordinator, Wirrpanda Foundation

Christine Cotton – Regional General Manager, Tcyo Fire & Security

Simon Bradwell – Managing Director, ebm-papst A&NZ Pty Ltd

Vanessa Sewell-Rosenberg – Talent & Organisation Development Manager, BOC

Rising Star Award

Kate Francis – Civil Engineer, Hyder Consulting

Kate Macfarlane – Product Manager, BOC Limited

Sally Mayberry – Environmental Advisor, Origin Energy

Rachel Hogan – ABB Graduate Program, ABB Australia

Social Leader

Teagan Dowler – Founder, The Blue Collared Woman

Sue Webster – Executive Officer, Agribusiness Gippsland

Jill Follington – Executive Director, Industry Mid North Coast

Samantha Kerr – SCADA, COMMS & Protection Implementation Engineer, Energex

Nicole Borkowsky – Associate Director, CDIF Group

For more information regarding the Women in Industry Awards, including to purchase tickets, please click here.

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Henry Sapiecha

AN ALL GIRLS ENGINEERING CLASSROOM

woman uses microscope image www.goodgirlsgo.com

An all-girls engineering class
Women make up only 14 percent of engineers, and the lack of female engineers in the field has been a topic of much discussion and concern. Morristown High School in Morristown, New Jersey has been experiencing this problem firsthand. The school offers a number of engineering courses, including a Principles of Engineering class, as part of Project Lead the Way. Mariel Kolker, an experienced teacher and engineer, found the number of girls in her classes dwindling from 6 one year to two the next and finally, she taught a class with just one girl.

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Henry Sapiecha

Addressing ‘boring science’ with grants for women engineers to teach robot lessons at school

LOOK AT JAR SPECIMEN -GIRL IMAGE www.goodgirlsgo.com

Female students at Brunel University London will teach schoolchildren to programme robots in a new bid to balance the gender divide in STEM subjects.

The university will train 40 Women in Engineering postgraduates to deliver the unique Robo-Code sessions at secondary schools – the result of a £29,625 Ingenious grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Pupils will use the code to create their own robot – and then programme it to do battle with their classmates’ creations, introducing them to engineering thinking and computer programming.

The Robo-Code initiative is part of a wider bid by Brunel University London to engage all genders in science and tackle teenage drift away from the subject.

The sessions will complement the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) outreach lab being created as part of a facilities upgrade to excite young people about the jobs that flow from STEM.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Brunel University London, Professor Geoff Rodgers, said: “Thanks to the backing of the Royal Academy of Engineering, our fantastic female engineering students will be able to share their passion and expertise for science and programming with a new generation of potential scientists.

“As women in engineering they are forging new ground and we hope this will challenge pupil perceptions that science is boring, irrelevant or not for them. The experience will in turn give our students vital career skills.”

Brunel University London students taking part in Robo-Code will be taught creative public engagement and communication skills. The grant will also provide the specialist equipment and tools needed to run the sessions.

Over time, the participants will share their knowledge with other students and professional engineers. This “train the trainer” model should mean the effects of the Academy’s Ingenious grant will be felt widely for years to come.

The Brunel project is one of 22 to be supported by Ingenious grants.

Professor Sarah Spurgeon, chair of the Ingenious funding panel, said: “The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Ingenious projects are finding new and innovative ways to get the public – whether student, family, or adult-audiences – engaged with engineering. Our projects don’t just showcase the diversity of engineering – they also give the public a meaningful opportunity to interact with engineers, ask questions and share their views.”

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Henry Sapiecha