Women in the Scientific Research Workforce

Project Coordinator

Dr Robyn May

Project Details

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.

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.



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.


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

Published Research

Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists & Managers (APESMA). (2007) Women in the Professions Survey Report.

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

Barlow, T. 2006, The Australian Miracle, An Innovative Nation Revisited, Sydney.

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

Bradley, D., Noonan, P., Nugent, H. and Scales, B. (2008) "Review of Australian higher education: final report". Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

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.

Collins, C., Kenway, J. and McLeod, J. (2000) "Factors Influencing the Educational Performance of Males and Females in School and their Initial Destinations after Leaving School."

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). (2008) CSIRO Annual Report 2007 – 2008.

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.

Hatchell, H. and Aveling, N. (2008) Gendered disappearing acts: Women’s doctoral experiences in the science workplace, Australian Association for Research in Education, Queensland.

Hugo, G. (2005) "Some emerging demographic issues on Australia’s teaching academic workforce." Higher Education Policy, 18(3): 207 - 229.

Hewlett, S. A., Luce, C. B., J. Servon, L. J., Sherbin, L., Shiller, P., Sosnovich, E., and Sumberg, K. (2008). The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering, and Technology, HBR Research Report, Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

Jones, J. and Young, D. J. (1995) "Perceptions of the Relevance of Mathematics and Science: An Australian Study." Research in Science Education, 25(1): 3 - 18.

Karpin, D. (1995) Enterprising Nation: Renewing Australia's managers to meet the challenges of the Asia-Pacific century, Industry Task Force on Leadership and Management Skills, Canberra.

Leathwood, C. and B. Read (2009). Gender and the Changing Face of Higher Education: A feminised future? Buckingham, SRHE and Open University Press.

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.

Morley, L. (1999) Organising Feminisms: The Micropolitics of Academic Feminism, St Martin’s Press, New York.

National Academies: Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) (2007) Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, Washington D.C., USA, The National Academies Press.

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.

Probert, B., Ewer, P. and Whiting, K. (1998) Gender Pay Equity in Australian Higher Education, The National Tertiary Education Union, Melbourne.

Probert, B. (2005) "‘I Just Couldn’t Fit It In’: Gender and Unequal Outcomes in Academic Careers." Gender, Work and Organisation12(1):50 - 72.

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

Watt, H. (2007) "A trickle from the pipeline: Why girls under participate in maths." Professional Educator 6: 36 – 40.

Whitchurch, C. (2008) ‘Shifting Identities, Blurring Boundaries: The Changing Roles of Professional Managers in Higher Education’,CSHE Research and Occasional Paper Series 10, University of California Berkley.

Whitehouse, G. (2003) “Gender and pay equity: future research directions”, Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources 41(1), 116-28.

Williams, J. (2000) Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It, OUP, Oxford.

Wagner, A. Acker,S. and Mayuzumi,S. (eds) (2008) Whose University Is It, Anyway?, Sumach Press, Toronto.

Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Advisory Group. (1995) Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, Australia.

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.