Women and girls represent half of the world’s population, but, according to recent UNESCO data, less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women.
In an indication of its commitment to ending this gender imbalance, the United Nations has declared February 11 to be International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
At the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science, we share this commitment, and believe strongly in the importance of creating an inclusive and respectful workplace, where people from all backgrounds and genders can thrive and reach their full potential.
To find out how we are working to achieve this goal, you can read our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy, review the Centre’s Inclusive Recruitment Policy and get to know the members of our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Specific actions we are taking include:
- - Supporting flexible workplace practices
- - Promoting inclusive and diverse leaders and leadership
- - Increasing the employment of members of underrepresented groups
- - Using inclusive language in recruitment advertisements
- - Ensuring selection panels and interview panels reflect the diversity in the community.
To recognise International Day of Women and Girls in Science in 2021, and to encourage further dialogue about the importance of redressing the gender imbalance in research, we want to share with you the insights, opinions and priorities of women students and researchers within Exciton Science regarding achieving equal representation in science.
“I think it’s incredibly important. There shouldn’t be a gendered aspect to the subjects that we choose to study. But I do understand that it comes down a lot to, if you can’t see it, why would you think to study it or become it. Having access to [women] scientists in schools is probably one of the most important things to do.”
“I think it’s certainly important. One of the reasons women struggle more in their research career [is because] people start to value their ideas when they reach a certain professional level. But before that level, we have to admit that in many cases the label of being female is somehow heavier than that of being a scientist.
"But I am also very happy to see that many organizations are aware of this and are making conscious efforts to make changes. This of course requires a change in our academic environment and the perseverance of women ourselves.”
“Statistics have shown that businesses perform much better with more diversity, so it’s not just doing it to be nice, it’s really valuable for us to hear alternative voices. I wanted to be part of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. I’m the only female in my group, it would be nice to see more females. That’s one of the areas that I care about in particular.”
“To recruit more women in STEM subjects, we should start in high school and show female students what they will achieve if they pursue science. This is a little bit heartbreaking but when I started doing my PhD, in my research group I was the only girl. Now that I’m a postdoc, I’m the only one. It’s important to show kids in high school that you can be a successful female scientist. Or even at undergraduate level. Especially in physics.”
“I think there is a growing awareness of these challenges. I think the university has good policies in place ... There’s some broader issues that have come to the fore in the last couple of years, like the benefit of targeted recruitment. That’s what we’re doing at the moment. It really flushes out people who may not consider applying otherwise.
“We’ve appointed some fantastic women in the School of Physics in the last year or so. It really does create a much better environment for everyone. Funding agencies like the Australian Research Council are also aware. Performance relative to opportunities is something they’ve encouraged. It’s their stated policy in terms of assessing people’s performance. They also want to see strong female representation and a diverse membership of Centres.”