Women in Science

Women in Science

"The world needs more women in Science. Today women are leaders in many fields of science, research, and discovery but there is still a distance to travel before there is gender parity in these roles. We are committed to creating more opportunities for women across all of our disciplines."

Professor Jordan Nash, Dean, Faculty of Science

Science Gender Equity and Inclusion

Gender equity and inclusion seeks to provide equal opportunities and equal expectations for individuals, regardless of their gender, race, culture or sexual identity.

Meet-Diana

Diana Robledo-Ruiz, School of Biological Sciences

“The best part of a career in science is being able to help generate solutions for the great issues in the world, for example, the conservation of biodiversity. Getting to play detective by following clues to discover new facts is also a very cool part of being a scientist!

One of the biggest challenges for women is trusting their own capabilities and recognizing their own potential. My advice? Just go for it. Apply to that scientific program, volunteer to give that talk, nominate yourself for that prize. Sometimes doing your best is all it takes.”

Meet-Anindita

Dr Anindita Samsu, Research Fellow, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment

Working on a scientific question that no one has the complete answer to is both exciting and humbling. I draw so much joy from pursuing this with other scientists with different skillsets and backgrounds. Every day brings opportunities to learn from others. Women often feel the pressure to do it all and to do it well, even though this is unsustainable. We need to share the load, foster collaborative networks, and build alliances to achieve the best outcomes, whether it’s for a project, our career, or achieving gender equity.

I investigate how the Earth’s solid outer layer breaks when tectonic plates move apart or collide. Understanding where and how fractures form can show us where earthquakes are likely to happen, where we can extract natural heat from deeper parts of the Earth instead of using energy from fossil fuels, and also where to look for the mineral resources that make up our infrastructure and technological tools. The pandemic has taught us the importance of communicating our science well, in order to build public trust in science. Scientists alone cannot ensure a safe and equitable future for everyone. It takes the trust and support of the non-scientific community to overcome global challenges.

Meet-Isobel

Isobel Romero-Shaw, PhD candidate, School of Physics and Astronomy

A career in science gives you the freedom and privilege to devote your life to expanding the collective knowledge of humanity, in any small way that you can, and to be surrounded by people who have the same passion and curiosity. One challenge for women is that there are fewer non-male celebrated scientists: it can feel like you are an anomaly and can be quite isolating. Finding other like-minded women is key to overcoming this. For example, I am a member of Homeward Bound, a women's leadership initiative that gives me hundreds of inspiring contacts in STEMM fields.

My work helps us to understand the 'invisible' parts of the Universe. I study black holes: the compact remnants of dead stars. Sometimes, black holes collide with each other, sending out ripples in space-time called gravitational waves. We detect these ripples using kilometer-scale antennae, and I analyse them to work out how the objects met. Science is crucial to improving lives. The pandemic has shown us the dangers of unclear science communication... It's also taught us the incredible things that scientists can do in a crisis, like inventing multiple vaccines for a completely new virus.

Meet-Amanda

Associate Professor Amanda Karakas, School of Physics and Astronomy

Science allows you to study how the world works. Scientists ask fundamental questions, such as where did the elements in the universe come from? It is also amazing to be able to inspire the next generation of scientists. Challenges for women in science include dealing with unconscious bias in the workplace and juggling family and career. My advice is to speak up speak up and not be afraid to take credit for your work, and to follow your passion even if that includes a career in science and a family!

My research seeks to understand the lifecycle of stars and the origin of elements in the universe. The processes that make stars shine also synthesizes heavier elements from lighter elements. Once a star dies some of those newly synthesized elements are sent into space, so I am also interested in how stars disperse their newly made elements and how the chemical element content of galaxies has increased over cosmic time. Science has been particularly important during the pandemic. The obvious example is the quick response of the medical research world which enabled the development of highly effective vaccines. But science and technology have also given us a highly connected world, where we can work, teach and study from home.

Meet-Sridevi

Dr Felicity McCormack, Senior Lecturer, ARC DECRA Fellow, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment

As an Antarctic scientist my work takes me to one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on Earth. I love combining my passion for science with my love of nature, using my mathematical skills to describe and understand the physical processes that cause glaciers to flow.

But being a woman in science is not without challenges! Women are often subject to structural and cultural norms that disadvantage them in the workplace. My advice is to surround yourself with people who will fly your flag when you might be too shy, and who will support, encourage, and build you up. I also highly recommend looking for opportunities to be mentored.

COVID has shown us that excellent science is as important as it's ever been, but on its own is not enough: we need high quality scientific literacy in the community. Scientists can play a role in that, and in inspiring others through stories, so that we can change the world.

Meet-Sridevi

Dr Sridevi Sureshkumar, ARC Future Fellow, Head Epigenetic Mechanisms, School of Biological Sciences

"A career in science gives you the freedom to think. As a biologist I like to look beyond the horizon and tackle scientific challenges. Whilst I am a scientist, I am also a mother of two children, and I understand the challenges that go with that. My advice to women in science is to approach challenges pragmatically, try to let go of being a perfectionist in everything you do. I used the career breaks during motherhood to continue my passion for science by attending short workshops on developing grant writing skills and studying how my colleagues wrote their grants, which equipped me to win a national fellowship.
My research focuses on Arabidopsis thaliana - a plant model which we use to study genetics. Genetic information is stored in DNA and made of chemical units called nucleotides. Due to environmental disruptions and some unknown molecular mechanisms these chemical units multiply, expand rapidly, and are known to cause a growing number of human genetic disorders. We have discovered similar problems plants. It is my hope that we can use the knowledge from the plants to manage of human genetic disorders."

Vanessa Wong

Vanessa Wong, Associate Professor Soil and Land Management, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment

Associate Professor Vanessa Wong is a soil scientist at the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment. “The challenge for women in science is overcoming the systemic biases and barriers that currently exist to limit women's and girls' participation, advancement and promotion in science and science-based careers. Visibility matters - I hope that engaging with students and communicating with the public will allow more women and girls to identify with women scientists, while also working on how we can redefine the criteria on which a successful scientist is assessed against. I’m a soil scientist and I study how land management practices and environmental change affects the belowground soil processes such as biogeochemical cycling in agricultural, mining and natural environments.”

Dr Ailie Gallant

Dr Ailie Gallant, Senior Lecturer, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment

Dr Ailie Gallant is a senior lecturer at the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment and the Deputy Director of the Monash Climate Change Communications Research Hub. “The challenge for women in science is that there is still a long way to go in overturning invisible biases, ingrained misogyny, uneven caring responsibilities, pressure to stay silent about harassment, and the seniority bottle neck. The journey toward change has only just begun. I hope I can contribute to change by being a voice for those who need one, and by being proactive in empowering everyone to bring equity into the workplace by changing their own practices and recognising their own innate biases. My work involves trying to understand why it rains less during droughts by looking at how weather systems change. I look to see if rain-bearing weather systems disappear, whether they rain less, and how systems like heatwaves influence drought."

Dr Carly Cook

Dr Carly Cook, Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences

Dr Carly Cook is lecturer at the School of Biological Sciences. A conservation scientist her research is focused around improving the use of science in environmental management decisions. “My advice to a female who aspires to a career in Science or Science study is to embrace maths because it’s central to everything we do in Science and can be your greatest tool,” says Dr Cook.
“But most importantly, do what inspires you, because that’s how you’ll remain motivated during the difficult times in your career. I try to understand the level of integration of science in decision-making, the barriers to better integration and to design decision support tools that can facilitate the uptake of science. I hope my research makes the world a better place by giving decision makers the tools to make more successful management decisions, and when unsuccessful, to learn from their actions to improve their effectiveness in the future. Dr Cook’s research has revealed that 1,500 protected areas in Australia have had their protection reduced or removed all together over the past 20 years. “And we now have a shameful record in clearing native vegetation,” she says. “I would love to understand how we can get the public engaged with conservation again, so they can pressure governments to reinstate or increase protections for biodiversity.”

Yona Nebel Jacobsen

Dr Yona Nebel-Jacobsen, Research Fellow, School of Atmosphere and Environment

Dr Yona Nebel-Jacobsen, is a Research Fellow, at the School of Atmosphere and Environment (EAE). She is an isotope geochemist and oversees a clean laboratory facility at EAE, the Isotopia Lab. “My advice to aspiring female scientists is don’t let anyone discourage you from your dream,” she says. “I work with researchers and students, supporting their research and learning. My research interests are around the Early Earth. I hope to make the world a better place not only by what I do but by how I do it. I try to create a safe and open work environment for everyone. I am not only engaged in gender equity by chairing the school's committee but am also an ambassador for mental health first aid and trained in suicide alertness. These 'non-academic' skills are important for creating a productive, safe work environment.”

Vanessa Kellermann

Dr Vanessa Kellermann, Future Fellow, School of Biological Sciences

Dr Vanessa Kellermann, is a Future Fellow, at the School of Biological Sciences. "The challenge for women in science is to have the confidence to overcome bias, not just gender bias but your own unconscious bias, for example imposter syndrome. My research examines whether insects differ in their vulnerability to climate change. Do species vulnerabilities differ depending on the type of environments they occupy and can we predict which species will be the most at risk to climate change? I hope to change people’s perspectives on the important contributions that insects make to our environment.”