GLASS CEILINGS: UOW lecturer and scientist Dr Danielle Skropeta is excited the issue of gender equality in science is no longer the elephant in the room. Picture: SuppliedDespite women outnumbering men in enrollments for science degrees and PhD’s, a glass ceiling still exists but the University of Wollongong hopes to break it.
UOW is one of the first universities to take part in a new Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot aimed at furthering the careers of females in traditionally male-dominated disciplines.
They’ve committed to tackling the gender pay gap, stamping out discrimination, and preventing the loss of women across the career pipeline.
Currently females make up just 17 per cent of senior academics in Australian universities and research institutes.
Dr Danielle Skropeta is a senior lecturer and chemist researching new cancer treatments, and has been with the Wollongong institution since 2006.
Currently she sits on the workplace diversity reference group and feels opening the discussion on gender equality will helpstop talent from being wasted.
“It feels it’s the zeitgeist at the moment for gender equity, so there’s a lot of discussion everywhere we go and it’s giving women more power to bring it up and talk about it,” she said.
While attesting to having great male colleagues and great male support, Dr Skropeta said the inequality has become institutionalised in science and engineering fields.
“It’s become part of the fabric. I think we all go on without taking our glasses off and seeing it for what it is,” she said.
A recent report released from the University of Melbourne confirmed women were increasingly achieving at the highest levels than men, obtaining advanced scientific qualifications and taking key roles, though there are high attrition rates.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Judy Raper said UOW had a proud history of gender equalitythrough a range of policies, strategies and initiatives, but was committed to doing more through the SAGE program.
UOW already boasts anumber of female researchers working on a range of studies “critical to Australia’s future” likesaving the Great Barrier Reef, campaigning for public policy change to curb childhood obesity, and finding cures for dementia.
Nearly half of the iAccelerate start-up businesses have female founders, while female leaders make up three out of five of the university’s senior executive.
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