International Day of Women and Girls in Science 11 February

International Day of Women and Girls in Science 11 February

"I hadn't been aware that there were doors closed to me until I started knocking on them."

— Gertrude B. Elion, biochemist, pharmacologist, and winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

"Today we celebrate the achievements by women in STEM. We are committed to working to see that opportunities for women continue to increase in our disciplines."

— Professor Jordan Nash, Dean, Faculty of Science, Monash University

Outstanding women share their stories about science

Giulia Ghedini

Dr Giulia Ghedini, Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences

“On International Women and Girls in Science day, I would like the outstanding work of female researchers to be recognised.  I look forward to the day where we won't have to worry about gender anymore. If science is your aspiration, embrace it and enjoy the journey. There is always a lot of uncertainty in this type of career but if you take it step-by-step it can be a rewarding journey. Having mentors and supervisors that support you is fundamental. I study how ecological communities function as a whole by measuring how much resources they consume and produce, and looking at how external factors such as global warming, alter these processes. My work aims to clarify how environmental change will impact the fundamental processes of food consumption and oxygen production in natural communities. With this knowledge we can better forecast ecological change and implement plans to minimise drastic changes. Sometimes I worry about being able to reach the standards that will allow me to be a successful researcher. It is a continuous challenge but I will tackle it with the good support of mentors and hard work. I am excited to start my DECRA (Discovery Early Career Researcher Award) - I want to embrace the sense of discovery of the research and love the adventurous nature and flexibility of this job.”

Moira O’Bryan

Moira O’Bryan, Professor, Head of Monash School of Biological Sciences, Head of the Male Infertility and Germ Cell Biology Laboratory

“I knew at age 14 that I wanted to do a PhD in biochemistry. I’ve always liked science and the natural world. I had an uncle who was a geneticist and to me he had a very glamorous life – he was on an adventure, he was discovering something new. One of the biggest joys is to know that you are the first person to know something…. I am the Head of the School of Biological Sciences and I lead the Male Infertility and Germ Cell Biology Laboratory. My research focuses on the study of sperm development and the causes of human male infertility. The hardest part of my journey would have been my mid-career stage in my mid-30s. I was independent – but the entire lab depended on me. If I wasn’t doing it – it stopped. It was a long daily grind. I remember thinking, is this what I want to be doing for the rest of my life? And then something happened, - I started to gain recognition from my field, there was a sense of ‘she knows what she’s talking about’, ‘it’s her work, not the head of the department’s or anyone else’s’. My advice to aspiring women scientists is find a good mentor, make sure you have a support group, and be proactive in putting yourself forward for promotions. Put yourself out there – volunteer for things, take part in conferences, and network. Push yourself just that little harder.”

Dr Boon Mian Teo

Dr Boon Mian Teo, Lecturer, Monash School of Chemistry

Dr Boon Mian Teo, Lecturer, Monash School of Chemistry “I would like to see more females working in the field of physical chemistry and becoming role models for the younger (future) generation in STEM. To all the females who want to get into a career in STEM: first of all, do what interests you, get involved in it and ask questions. Be bold and don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done. Creativity is a key ingredient for success in STEM. I hope to inspire more female students to do research in physical chemistry. My research is all about ultrasound. Sound plays a crucial role in how we experience the world around us. The physics of acoustics are inherently important and of great interest to us. Ultrasound frequency is above the threshold of our human hearing, however its impacts are widespread and it has several applications all around us. By tuning the acoustic frequency, we can use sound in a broad range of applications from making chemical reactions go faster, to baby scans and as a therapeutic drug delivery tool. I have always been fortunate enough to work with brilliant supervisors and mentors and their enthusiasm for research was infectious. They have inspired me to become a scientist and educator. Doing science and educating the next generation of scientists will make the world a better place.”

Dr Carly Cook

Dr Carly Cook, Lecturer, Monash School of Biological Sciences

“I’d like to see gender equality in the Sciences, and a reasonable expectation of equal pay for equal work. 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. But most importantly, do what inspires you, because that’s how you’ll remain motivated during the difficult times in your career. I’m a conservation scientist. My research is focused around improving the use of science in environmental management decisions. 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. The significant and continuing erosion of environmental protections in Australia and around the world keeps me up at night. My 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. 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. What’s good about life right now is that I feel very lucky to be able to pursue my passions, and balance this with having a family.”

Yona Nebel Jacobsen

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

"On International Women and Girls in Science day, I would like to see more girls taking up STEM subjects. My advice to aspiring female scientists is don’t let anyone discourage you from your dream. I am an isotope geochemist and I oversee a clean laboratory facility at EAE, the Isotopia Lab. 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. Sometimes I worry about the future. Climate change worries me, the rise of right-wing nationalism worries me, not stopping the crisis in domestic violence worries me. But there is also much to be grateful for right now: my family is healthy, I’m supported in my career and I have a job that I enjoy."