Article from: The Australian

AUSTRALIA’S Nobel prize-winning molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn lamented recently the professional difficulties facing female scientists – and a new study proves her right.

Women still cluster at the bottom of the scientific heap, even in fields such as biology where they are well represented, according to a report released yesterday by the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies.

In her report, Women in Science in Australia: Maximising Productivity, Diversity and Innovation, Professor Bell concludes that not only do women scientists get fewer senior jobs than men, they also earn less than their male counterparts, receive less recognition in measures of scientific excellence and hold fewer memberships in scientific academies.

Federation president Ken Baldwin said the progress of women in science had stalled over the past 15 years.

“Despite impressive improvement in the participation of women in science at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, the retention of women at senior levels in science and technology remains poor,” he said.

In 1996, for instance, women constituted 18.1 per cent of full-time professionals in design, engineering, science and transport. That grew to 22.3 per cent this year. But in 1996, women made up 19 per cent of full-time information and communication technologies professionals, dropping to 15.2 per cent last year.

Roughly 7 per cent of the members of Australia’s learned societies are female.

While Australia’s premier research body, the CSIRO, is led by Megan Clark, only 21 per cent of the organisation’s 1727research scientists are women, just 10 per cent of top salary earners are women, 8 per cent of 194 research managers are women and only three of the 12 members of the executive team are women.

Professor Bell found significant numbers of female scientists continue to report discrimination and harassment.

“Sadly, we haven’t come very far at all,” she said. “In fact, there’s been very little change in the patterns of participation and success in 15 years.”

Professor Bell offers a series of recommendations to tackle the multiple “micro disadvantages” women face from the earliest stages of their career. She suggests simple family-friendly practices such as not holding meetings before 9.15am or after 4.30pm, as well as scholarships and fellowships designed to attract and retain female scientists.

Federal Science Minister Kim Carr agreed with professors Baldwin and Bell that women’s poor representation in lead scientific roles was a matter of lost innovation as well as inequity.

“At last year’s Prime Minister’s Science Prize awards, I noted that if qualified women went on to do serious research as frequently as men do, we’d have up to 400 extra scientists a year working on the big problems facing Australia and the world,” he said. “That’s a lot of squandered talent.”

Senator Carr has pledged to make funding for research and innovation a priority, while supporting measures such as 75 per cent workloads for post-doctoral fellows at the Australian Research Council.

2 thoughts on “Despite Elizabeth Blackburn’s Nobel win, women face battles in science

  1. Is that the reason, why women are choosing entertainment industry globally (especially here in India).

    Am now drifting this topic slightly to global problem, which is created by we men, but the message is the same( not sure why it happened in the first place)

    Was always a myth that blondes women are dumb …. I find even men dumb and act like duhs !

    Every woman irrespective of her looks, color, age, do try to look good to please men, (husbands, lovers, clients, etc) by applying makeup and other stuff… and it requires patience and intelligence, because if those make-up not applied properly then they look very bad.

    In short Women face battles every where… yet, what i see here in India – is a drastic change in last 25 years !

    Today , here in India a women does all the house chores
    1- Cooks in the morning if married, then serves breakfast to her husband

    2- w/kid, then she will get them ready

    3- travels to work looking good, tidily

    4- comes back and again cooks and takes all the complains thrown at her by her husband and kids

    5- then the bedtime stories for both kids and husbands

    is that the reason, why women in India are scared to get married ?

The SOT Feedback Logo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *