Women in the Scientific Research Workforce

About the project

The focus of research has been on women in science, engineering and technology disciplines in the academy. However, women in science in industry have been largely ignored and very little is known about mobility between the academy public sector and industry.

This project, anchored in the strategically important fields of biomedical research and chemistry related industries, will use longitudinal data analysis and industry case studies to extend knowledge of gender differences in scientific career paths and critical career transitions. This will produce a body of Australian data that will allow benchmarking and theory development against comparable, recent international studies and provide industry with tools to build and sustain diversity.

Women in the scientific research workforce; Identifying and sustaining the diversity advantage is funded as an ARC Linkage project 2012-2014 (LP110200480).

This project, through collaboration between three strategic partners will build on the existing research to:

  1. extend understanding of gendered career paths in science outside the academy in two strategically significant fields – biomedical research and chemistry related industries;
  2. extend understanding of critical career transitions;
  3. produce a body of Australian data that will allow international benchmarking;
  4. provide data and strategies for industry to inform workforce planning and to inform policy making.

Staff

Chief Investigator:

Professor Sharon Bell brings to the project an established record of working effectively with industry partners and professional groups on gender, the academy and the research workforce to produce robust research that speaks to its audience and simultaneously attracts widespread academic interest. Over the past six years she has produced three major reports in this field. She has been a leader in the work and the research projects undertaken by Universities Australia Executive Women and the facilitator and champion of that organisation’s most significant project to date, the current Gender and Employment Equity: Strategies for Advancement in Australian Universities. Professor Bell will lead this project, taking responsibility for data identification and interrogation; collaboration with ACER; liaison with industry partners; workshop and focus group design; and writing, communication and dissemination of research results.

Project Coordinator:

Robyn May is a PhD candidate at the Griffith Business School, Griffith University, and her PhD is on the casualisation of academic employment, as part of the ARC Linkage project, Gender and Employment Equity Strategies for Advancement in Australian Universities. Robyn has a background in academia and the trade union movement, and has worked at the London School of Economics, and in New Zealand, at Victoria University of Wellington, and most recently at the National Tertiary Education Union.

Chief Investigator:

Professor Lyn Yates holds concurrent roles as Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) and Foundation Professor of Curriculum at the University of Melbourne. Lyn has longstanding research interests in gender and education, beginning with her 1987 PhD on Curriculum Theory and Non-Sexist Education, as well as in education and career pathways, and in social change and public policy. Her previous appointments include roles as Director of Women’s Studies (at La Trobe University) and as a member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts for the Social Sciences. In her current role, Lyn has been particularly interested in what happens to women in universities, and what opportunities are opened up and constrained for them. Alongside this ARC Linkage project on Women in Science, Lyn is also leading an ARC Discovery Project on Knowledge Building in Schooling and Higher Education: policy strategies and effects.

Partners

The Royal Australian Chemical Institute Inc.

RACI is both the qualifying body in Australia for the professional chemists and a learned society promoting the science and practice of chemistry. Since 1917 the RACI has catalysed the advancement, growth and development of the chemical sciences at the highest professional level.

The eight member Board with the President as Chairman is the final decision-making body of the RACI with overall legal and financial responsibility for the RACI Inc. It takes advice from its membership through a representative assembly and from other committees which are established to oversee specific RACI activities and responsibilities.

RACI has approximately 6000 members who become involved through the state based branch network and their interest groups and through the chemistry based divisions. It is concerned with the teaching and practice of chemistry and with the application of chemistry in industry, academia and government authorities. Therefore it represents and caters for the professional needs of all chemists, providing various activities and services that encompass the profession of chemistry in Australia.

The Bio 21 Cluster

Bio 21 Australia Ltd, trading as the Bio 21 Cluster is a private not for profit company comprising 22 member organisations spanning hospitals, independent research institutes, universities, CSIRO and other member-based organisations. The members cover a broad spectrum of biomedical research fields and represent in excess of 5,000 research staff and students. The role fo the Bio21 Cluster is to facilitate interactions between the members to achieve progress on broad scientific and health related issues that are beyond the scope of any one member organisation.

Science & Technology Australia

Science & Technology Australia represents 68,000 scientists and technologists, and promotes their views on a wide range of policy issues to government, industry and the community. The organisation was formerly known as the Federation of Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS) until June 2011.

Science & Technology Australia represents a vast array of professional interests within the field across Australia, with members including organisations such as the Australian Neuroscience Society, Australian Society for Biophysics, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, the Australian Council of Deans of Science and the Women in Science Enquiry Network, amongst others. It was formed in late 1985, following substantial cuts to science in the 1984 Federal Budget. The then Minister for Science, Barry Jones, had at the time accused the science and technology community as being ‘wimpish’ in its lobbying and blamed the budget cuts accordingly.

The organisation contributes to discussions at the highest levels in policy-making in Australia and communicates with the highest level of government.

Resources

Related publications

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Bailyn, L. (2003), ‘Academic Careers and Gender Equity: Lessons from MIT’, Gender, Work and Organization, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 137-153.

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Bell, S. and Bentley, R. (2005) "Women in Research." AVCC National Colloquium of Senior Women Executives.

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Coates, H., Dobson, I., Edwards, D., Friedman, T., Goedegebuure, L. and Meek, L. (2009) The Attractiveness of the Australian academic profession: A comparative analysis: Research Briefing, LH Martin Institute, Melbourne.

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Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). (2008) CSIRO Annual Report 2007 – 2008. From http://www.csiro.au/org/AnnualReport.html

Cutler & Company. (2008) Venturous Australia: Building Strength in Innovation.

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C). (2008) Australia 2020 Summit – Final Report, Canberra.

Dever, M., Morrison, Z., Dalton, B. and Tayton, S. (2006) ‘When Research Works for Women.

Dever, M., Boreham, P., Haynes, M., Kubler, M., Laffan, W., Behrens, K. and Western, M. (2008) "Gender Differences in Early Post-PhD Employment in Australian Universities: The influence of PhD Experience on Women’s Academic Careers.

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2008) "Students 2007: Selected Higher Education Statistics'." Higher Education Statistics.

Edwards,D., Radloff, A. and Coates, H. (2009) Supply, Demand and Characteristics of the Higher Degree by Research Population in Australia, Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) submitted to the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Melbourne.

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2009) "Staff 2008: Selected higher education statistics" Higher Education Statistics.

DIISR (2010) Meeting Australia’s research workforce needs: A consultation paper to inform the development of the Australian Government’s research workforce strategy, Canberra.

EOWA (2005) EOWA Industry Verticals – Education http://www.eowa.gov.au/Information_Centres/Resource_Centre/EOWA_Publications/Industry_Verticals/EOWA_Eucation_IV_2005.pdf

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Mills, J., Mehrtens, V., Smith, E. and Adams, V. (2008) CREW Revisited in 2007 The Year of Women in Engineering, An Update on Women's Progress in the Australian Engineering Workforce. From http://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/groups/women-in-engineering/resources/resources_home.cfm

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National Research Council of the National Academies (2010), Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty, Washington D.C., USA, The National Academies Press.

Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). (2006) Women in Scientific Careers: Unleashing the Potential, OECD Publishing.

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Productivity Commission (2007) Public Support for Science and Innovation, Research Report, Productivity Commission, Canberra.

Sheil, M. (2010) Women in chemistry slow but steady progress?, Chemistry in Australia, August 2010: 17-20.

Stevens-Kalceff et al. (2007), "Maximising Potential in Physics: Investigation of the Academic Profile of the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales

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Yates, L. (2010a), “Researchers and Research Performance: recruitment, support and diversity issues within the capacity-building agenda” Keynote paper at 3rd Annual Australian Higher Education Congress, Sydney, March 2010

Yates, L. (2010b) , “Women and the research culture”, Chemistry in Australia, November, pp. 28-30.