Making their mark on International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, and we’re proud of invaluable contribution made by the many women who work within our School. So today, we’re celebrating by sharing some profiles and reflections from a selection of them.

Dr Maggie Kirkman, Senior Research Fellow, Social Sciences Division

Through my research I investigate the diverse ways in which women (and sometimes men) understand and manage the vicissitudes of their lives. These include serious illnesses, body dissatisfaction, problems with conception, or a sense of exclusion from the mainstream. My most common method is the qualitative interview: If you want to know what people think, why not ask them? And then encourage them to elaborate what they mean. My students, colleagues, and I use the results to develop appropriate health and social policy and contribute to improved clinical care. My hope is that women soon live in a global society in which they are valued and respected and in which inequalities, including those based on gender, are a distant memory.

Dr Suzanne Orchard, Senior Operations Manager (Australia), ASPREE

I develop and operationalise processes required for the collection of consistent, high quality data from over 19,000 participants enrolled in ASPREE in Australia and the US. In addition to overseeing study activity across 16 study sites in south eastern Australia, I am responsible for training our field researchers and quality assurance monitoring.

The ASPREE trial has, and will continue, to contribute world-first, evidence based findings about aspirin and healthy ageing. Older people are underrepresented in clinical trials; ASPREE is the largest study of aspirin for primary prevention in healthy older people aged 70+. The findings will make a difference to clinical practice and to the lives of future generations of older people.

My hope for women is that they are able to work in a field of medical and scientific research that matters to them. More broadly, I hope that regardless of their stage in life, women have the support and flexibility they need to make valuable contributions to their work place, and to feel valued themselves.

Professor Sally Green, Co-Director of Cochrane Australia

As Co-Director of Cochrane Australia and a member of the global Cochrane Governing Board, I enjoy the privilege of playing a leadership role in a trusted global organisation that puts gold standard health evidence in the hands millions of people around the world. Made up of 40,000 people across 120 countries, Cochrane demonstrates that we’re ‘more powerful together’. On this IWD we celebrate improving healthcare and outcomes for women and our work to address gender inequities in health systems.

On a personal level, I recognise the importance of mentoring women within flexible workplaces that are responsive to the demands of our busy lives. And closer to home, I’m looking forward to celebrating IWD with my young daughter, as she takes her place in a new generation of girls who can and will change our world for the better.

Professor Helen Skouteris, Monash Warwick Professor in Healthcare Improvement and Implementation Science, MCHRI

I’m a developmental psychologist and expert in health behaviour change working in healthcare improvement and implementation research to improve the health and wellbeing of women and children, especially in relation to obesity prevention. My work has been focused extensively in health and human services and educational sector improvement, targeting our most vulnerable women and their families.

My career goal is to break down silos and work collaboratively across multiple disciplines and sectors for collective impact in order to transform policy and practice that will improve the health of women and the health and development outcomes of children and adolescents.

I’m also unconditionally committed to capacity building, and I mentor over 30 early and middle career women, including women from low SES and first in family (at University) backgrounds, to foster their leadership skills and to achieve their own career goals.