Equality in Science (EqIS)

The Equality in Science Committee (EqIS) works to create conditions in which staff can operate to their full potential and work together cohesively. This working committee has broad representation from professional and academic staff to ensure relevant equity and staff development issues can be canvassed. Our committee structure consists of six subgroups working in the areas of mentoring, parenting, policy and strategy, communications, leadership and cultural diversity.

Julie Bernhardt, Emma Burrows, Naomi Milgrom

Aims of EqIS

  1. To identify workplace issues that impede career progression and potentially scientific research outcomes;

  2. Communicate these issues to the Institute’s Executive members and propose solutions;

  3. Improve career development opportunities (including training and networking) at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health;

  4. Develop guidelines and promote transparency in relation to parental leave, while providing support to ensure the continuation of research while employees are away from the workplace;

  5. Form broader external networks, with a primary aim to increase awareness of a need for equality in the work place and develop cross cultural solutions as to how to achieve this in the workplace environment;

  6. Lobby and improve general outcomes for women and/or those with personal circumstances that affect career performance and progression in scientific careers;

  7. Source funds to support individuals experiencing or who have experienced career disruption. The aim of providing this funding support is to minimise the effects of career interruption on research outcomes and support the career advancement of these individuals.

Committee Members

Co-Chairs:     Julie Bernhardt and Nathalie Braussaud

Secretary:     Christina Perry

General Members: Amanda Place, Andrea Gogos, Andrew Gundlach, Brett Purcell, Carmen Lahiff-Jenkins, Christina Perry, Despina Ganella, Emma Burrows, Fiona Ellery, Geoff Donnan, Julie Bernhardt, Jhodie Duncan, Katherine Jackman, Karin Sitte, Lindsea Booth, Nathalie Braussaud, Nicole Jenkins, Philip Beart, Rishma Vidyasagar, Robyn Brown, Rodi Neri, Rose Crossin, Sharon Kramer, Jane Standish, Toby Cumming, Tina Kaffenberger, Wah Chin Boon, Karen Borschmann, Kristal Figiel, Laura Bell, Melissa Perenc, Michele Binder, Pannilage Nirma Perera, Peter Goodin, Vanessa Brait, Ye Liu (Alice), Brian Fleming, Snezana Maljevic, Chris Tailby, Liam Johnson, Thijs Dhollander, Simon Mckenzie-Nickson.

Working Groups

Policy & Strategy

This committee is working on the implementation of The Gender Equity Strategic Plan (Board Approved). This plan was developed in collaboration with the Centre for Workplace Leadership, and will tie Florey initiatives together and link them with the Institution’s business strategy.

The goals of the gender equity strategic plan are:

  • As the next step in the process to achieve gender equity, in the next five years, implement an agreed strategy with yearly reporting and review of progress made;

  • Collect Florey specific data on gender equity, including specific barriers to career progression, and develop gender equity diagnostics for ongoing reporting at the Florey

  • Develop Florey leaders’ and managers’ knowledge of the business benefits of gender equity and equip them with the tools and knowledge needed to evolve the institute over time towards a sustainable equitable workplace;

  • Build an endowment fund to support EqIS initiatives;

  • Become an institute of choice for the most talented scientists

Emma Burrows (Chair), Geoffrey Donnan, Karin Sitte, Rodi Neri, Rose Crossin, Rodi Neri, Jane Standish, Nicole Jenkins, Scott, Ayton, Nathalie Braussaud, Karen Borschmann, Michele Binder.


Parent Support Subcommittee

The Parent Support working Subcommittee’s role is to promote family friendly work practices and policies and to provide a voice for working parents in the Institute.  We have established family rooms at Austin and Parkville campuses and will continue to circulate useful information regarding childcare options and holiday programs.

Brett Purcell (Chair), Toby Cumming, Karin Sitte, Emma Burrows, Tamara Tse, Robyn Brown, Liam Johnson, Peter Goodin, Martina Kocan.


Mentoring Subcommittee

The Mentoring Subcommittee is responsible for designing, implementing and promoting the mentoring program within the Florey. Our mentor and mentee pairs have described mutual benefits as a result of participating in the program.

Philip Beart (Chair), Emma Burrows, Ross Bathgate, Julie Bernhardt, Lachlan Heath Thompson, Gawain McCol, Fiona Ellery, Andrew Lawrence Gundlach, Melissa Perenc, Pannilage Nirma Perera, Simon Mckenzie-Nickson.


Communications Subcommittee

The Communications Subcommittee promotes the work of the EqIS committee within the Florey and to the broader community. The group organises and promotes career development and equality workshops. 

Katherine Jackman (Chair), Amanda Place, Andrea Gogos, Carmen Lahiff-Jenkins, Lindsea Booth.


Leadership Subcommittee

The Leadership Subcommittee aims to identify, develop and provide programs and initiatives which employees of the Florey can access to help develop their individual and combined leadership skills. We aim to foster gender balance in leadership positions and have the idea that better leadership at all levels of the institute will facilitate better science.

Andrew Lawrence Gundlach (Co-chair), Despina Electra Ganella (Co-chair), Nathalie Braussaud, Terence Pang, Christina Perry, Philip Beart, Wah Chin Boo, Thijs Dollander, Carolina Restrapo.


Cultural Diversity Subcommittee

The Cultural Diversity Subcommittee aims to celebrate the diverse community of employees and students that make up the Florey. Our objective is to establish a supportive network to enhance the experiences of all those that form the Florey Institute through various pathways such as supporting the integration process for newcomers and current members.

Rishma Vidyasagar (Chair), Sharon Kramer (acting Chair), Tamara Tse, Tina Kaffenberger, Julie Bernhardt, Qiao-Xin Li, Sharon Kramer, Shiraz Tyebji, Vanessa Brait, Ye Alice Liu.

Events & Achievements

Leadership Subcommittee – In 2015, the Leadership Subcommittee ran its  first leadership workshop. This program will be repeated in 2016, and will run over 2 days in September and October The goals of  the workshop are to:

  • Increase self-awareness

  • Build flexible communication styles and identify when to use them

  • Provide a focus on career development and how to achieve career goals

  • Foster networks to provide peer support

  • Build confidence especially the ability to talk about success

  • Provide a place and time for personal and professional reflection

The program is open to all academic and non-academic staff and will be facilitated by the Florey’s Dr Wah Chin Boon who will share the tools and knowledge she acquired through the National Australia Bank (NAB) leadership workshop in 2014.


Kate White book celebration – A celebration for Kate White’s book, Keeping Women in Science, was held on Friday 8 May 2015 at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Parkville. This important tome investigates why more women than men leave science and includes research undertaken at the Florey Institute. Kate looks at the challenges women face and asks why it is so important to keep women in science research. She explores new models to enable younger women and men to combine successful careers while enjoying balance in their lives. Kate White is an internationally recognised researcher on gender and higher education. She is adjunct professor at Federation University Australia and co-director of the nine-country research consortium, the Women in Higher Education Management Network. The celebration was attended by approximately 50 guests including Florey Director, Professor Geoffrey Donnan and Co-chair of the Florey’s equality committee, Professor Julie Bernhardt.

Keeping Women in Science is published through Melbourne University Press and is available for purchase via https://www.mup.com.au/items/152644.


Parent Support Subcommittee – The Parent Support Subcommittee has recently established the Florey Parent Support Group which will help parents navigate work-life balance. A buddy system will be implemented to support parents-to-be and help guide them through returning to work following parental leave. In addition, in response to feedback from staff, from February 2015 multipurpose family rooms have been set up at both the Parkville and Austin Florey campuses. These rooms will enable staff and students to care for children while holding meetings or undertaking experiments or other work.


Mentoring Subcommittee - The Florey’s new Mentoring scheme, driven by the EQiS Mentoring Subcommittee, commenced in April 2015 with professional development sessions run by executive coach, Emma Laing. These sessions were designed to help participants enhance their existing skill sets as mentors and effectively unpack career decisions to provide guidance to a broad range of mentees. Mentees were equipped with a greater understanding of what can be gained by engaging with a mentor and emerged with a clear goal to work through with their mentor for this year.

A matching process was then undertaken to pair Mentors with Mentees for an 8 month program running until December 2015. Mentoring meetings are expected to take place at least on a monthly basis and a wrap-up session will be held in December. The progress and success of this new program will be evaluated and we anticipate further mentoring programs in 2016 and beyond.


Communications Subcommittee - The Communications Subcommittee ran the first ever "Australian Women in Neuroscience Wikibomb" on 6 November 2014 at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Parkville. This coordinated Wikipedia editing session increased the representation of women on Wikipedia by creating pages for those who have made outstanding contributions to Australian neuroscience.

Wikipedia is the world’s most accessed reference site and women are underrepresented as entries in the encyclopedia, despite their enormous contributions to the field. This may be the result of the lack of female editors, which many think contributes to gender-related biases in entries on the site.

Approximately 20 participants created new pages for neuroscientists including Mary Galea and Louise Newman which can now be accessed through Wikipedia.The Wikibomb was supported by Wikimedia Australia President, Steven Zhang, who provided pre-event training and technical support at the event. The event received the following media coverage:

The Citizen

Daily Life

Finacial Review

For more information on Australian women in neuroscience, access the Australian Women in Neuroscience Wikibomb page.

How to Apply for General Membership

Calls for applications occur annually. To apply for general membership, please contact the EqIS secretary for further information. Selection will be based on the nomination form and current representation on the EQiS, with the goal of achieving representative diversity of the Florey community. Members are expected to attend a minimum of 75 percent of EQiS committee meetings to retain membership. Alternatively, you can apply to become a working member of EqIS by joining one of our working group. Please contact the Chair of the relevant group or EqIS secretary for further information.