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Research, pilot focus on gender equality

By Leanne Miles

Gender equity research by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Bell has been released Gender equity research by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Bell has been released

Issues surrounding the advancement of women in science are the focus of recently released research and a national pilot program.

Research by Charles Darwin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Sharon Bell has been released at the launch of a new Australian Research Council (ARC) pilot program focusing on gender equity in research.

The research co-authored by Professor Sharon Bell and University of Melbourne Professor Lyn Yates, entitled “Women in the Science Research Workforce: Identifying and Sustaining the Diversity Advantage”, focused on the issues surrounding advancement of women in science.

Professor Bell said the research was designed to contribute to understanding entrenched patterns of disadvantage associated with women’s participation in the science research workforce, which appeared to repeat itself in successive generations.

“Despite the fact that outstanding women are increasingly achieving at the highest levels, obtaining advanced scientific qualifications and taking key roles in the fields of science and technology, women’s participation in the science research workforce continues to be characterised by low levels of retention and success beyond the postdoctoral career stage,” Professor Bell said.

“Our research strongly suggests that new employment conditions and career pathways are needed to reframe patterns of participation and opportunities for success for a wider range of entrants to the scientific research workforce. This is particularly the case in universities and research institutes.”

Professor Bell said that to achieve these outcomes, a better understanding was required of what opportunities existed, for whom, and in what professional contexts.

The release of Professor Bell’s research report preceded the launch of the new Academy of Sciences’ Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot program focusing on gender equity in research.

Thirty-two organisations are participating in the SAGE pilot, a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

Professor Bell is a member of the SAGE steering committee as a leading expert on gender-related issues within the sciences and was one of three experts to speak at the launch of the SAGE initiative in Canberra recently.

This is Professor Bell’s latest gender equity research and can be found on the Women in the Science Research Workforce and project website W: womeninscienceresearch.org.au. The research project was funded as an ARC Linkage project and hosted by the University of Melbourne.