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Equality in science

"I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy." - Marie Curie, physicist, chemist, and winner of the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Nobel Prize in Physics

The Women in Science brochure explains how the Florey is helping women excel

Download the Florey's Women in Science brochure.

The Florey’s Equality in Science committee is a dynamic and hard-working group aiming to make gender and diversity in team work the norm. With Board and senior management support, we aim to provide a thriving and supportive workplace for our researchers and our support staff.  As our momentum builds, we want to become the institute of choice for the most talented scientists in the field of brain research. We also have a role as a leader in this field, supporting other independent medical research institutes to strive for an equitable sector, regardless of employer. We are proud members of the Women in Science Parkville Precinct.

Why aim for equity at the lab bench?

It is now widely recognised that the most powerful results in the workplace stem from diversity – a range of opinions and approaches to solving a problem. Medical research is no different to any other business – we need to be successful and competitive. To produce novel, competitive medical research, we must ensure we have more women seeking, and staying in, a scientific career.

Our committee

The Florey is home to a diverse community of nearly 700 people from 44 different countries.

The Equality in Science committee members come from a broad range of professional and academic backgrounds and various levels of seniority. Two chairs oversee a diverse committee made up of more than 50 volunteers.

This committee is divided into six very active working groups:

  1. Policy and strategy
  2. Parent support
  3. Leadership
  4. Diversity
  5. Communications
  6. Cultural and behavioural initiatives.

As the Director is a member of EQiS, including the policy and strategy group, we have a champion in the boardroom and can directly influence management decisions.

Recent achievements:

Some of our recent achievements include:

  • Mentoring across the organisation is growing.  A training program includes pairing mentors and mentees who also provide valuable training data.
  • We support new parents. Breastfeeding and expressing rooms have been set up at our two major campuses. A quiet room at the back of our auditorium ensures new parents can attend lectures with their children. Parking permits are provided to people returning from parental leave and for those with special needs. Support is provided to assist new parents to attend conferences when they are speaking or receiving an award.
  • In cooperation with the Women in Science Parkville Precinct, we have provided qualitative and quantitative data to address inequality. This data allows us to precisely identify and address issues, as well as monitor progress. 
  • We influence policies at a senior level. Members addressed the Florey’s External Scientific Review and spoke to the recruiters of the new Scientific Director, emphasising the need for a gender-equal selection panel and a diverse range of candidates. We are also seeing an increase in the number of women on committees within the institute, having set an initial target of 30 per cent.
  • Our annual International Women’s Day Oration is a highlight of the precinct calendar. Past speakers include epilepsy specialist and trailblazing scientist, Professor Ingrid Scheffer AO, CEO of the National Health and Medical Council, Professor Anne Kelso AO, and science journalist and philanthropist, Elizabeth Finkel AM.
  • The Florey comes together to celebrate our diversity via an annual event to recognise different cultures and religions.

Associate Professor Lucy Palmer

There are still many areas we wish to address. These include:

  • The review of policies covering performance, bullying and harassment, and recruitment. We aim to increase transparency in promotions and recruitment as well as to identify the most vulnerable groups needing career support.
  • The need to better equip our leaders so they are accountable and performing at the highest level.
  • The assessment of superannuation and the impact of maternity leave on a woman’s lifelong earnings.
  • The value of sharing our achievements and aims with the Florey and wider medical research community.
  • The building of an endowment to support gender equity. This fund was generously launched by philanthropist, Ms Naomi Milgrom AO, and other major donors including:
    • The Trust Company
    • The Baker Foundation
    • Judith Overbeek
    • Phillip Goodman
    • The George and Freda Castan Families Foundation
    • Modara Pines Charitable Foundation

Testimonials

I joined EqIS because being a woman in science has a number of challenges and EqIS provided an opportunity for me to voice myconcerns and help other women in addressing these challenges.  Over the last few years that I have been an active EqIS member, I have had the pleasure of being involved in EqIS implementing positive changes at the Florey. This includes a number of family-friendly initiatives, support for women around maternity leave, and improving leadership and mentoring opportunities.

Dr Andrea Gogos NHMRC R.D. Wright Fellow (CDF 1) /Lab Head – Hormones in Psychiatry — Biological Psychiatry and Mental Health

"Science thrives when diverse ideas and approaches are combined to tackle the world's biggest questions. For us to unravel how the brain works, and to find ways to fix it when it stops working properly - which is no simple task! - we need to bring together innovative people who think differently.We need people from all backgrounds, genders and cultures, to bring their best ideas to the table.

The EQiS committee at the Florey is here to make sure that the best, brightest, and most innovative scientists are in our labs, and being supported throughout their careers, to break through new frontiers in brain research"

- Dr Sarah Gordon R.D. Wright Biomedical Career Development Fellow / Lab Head - Presynaptic Physiology — Neurodegeneration

“Donors don’t give to institutions. They invest in ideas and people in whom they believe” - G.T. Smith

You can support equality in science at the Florey and help make it a vibrant workplace for our researchers and support staff. If you’d like to speak with someone about how you can contribute, contact us via email at elouise.holmes@florey.edu.au or donate now. You will be able to direct your gift to EQiS when making your donation online.

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