Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science 11 February 2018

Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science 11 February 2018

"On this International Day, I urge commitment to end bias, greater investments in science, technology, engineering and math education for all women and girls as well as opportunities for their careers and longer-term professional advancement so that all can benefit from their ground-breaking future contributions."

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.

Cristina Varsavsky

Cristina Varsavsky, Professor, Deputy Dean, Monash Faculty of Science

"I look forward to the time when we no longer need to talk about women in science, their misrepresentation, and the barriers women sometimes face in accessing or progressing their careers in science. Science is a human endeavour that is enriched by the contributions made by all people, regardless of their gender, race or religion. There is still a long road to travel, though. If you are passionate about science, go for it. A career in science can be extremely rewarding. Build a network of friends, mentors and sponsors to support your journey. I started at Monash in the School of Mathematical Sciences, but have now been in academic administration in the Faculty of Science for quite a while, first as Associate Dean Education and then as Deputy Dean. In the roles I had over the years my ultimate goal has always been to support, directly or indirectly,  those who are at the coal face teaching, nurturing, mentoring, and supporting science students in their journey through university studies."

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.”

Meera Parish

Meera Parish, Associate Professor, Monash School of Physics and Astronomy

“I would like to see a greater number of women, and a greater diversity of people generally, studying STEM. My advice to women considering a STEM career or STEM study is to focus on what interests you – do not be fooled or put off by people who appear to be super confident. I am a theoretical physicist who aims to understand and mathematically describe the behaviour of many interacting quantum particles such as atoms and electrons. For instance, collections of particles can exhibit exotic phenomena such as superfluidity and superconductivity. My work expands our knowledge of quantum physics and has the potential to underpin a new generation of electronic devices in the future. Indeed, I am currently part of an ARC Centre of Excellence on Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies, which ultimately aims to make computers more energy efficient. What keeps me up at night? I worry about how we're going to meet the challenges posed by a changing climate and our insatiable demand for energy. It is more important than ever to invest in STEM education. What’s great about life right now is that I am fortunate enough to have a permanent position in a vibrant and young department in one of the most liveable cities in the world.”

Dr Boon Mian Teo

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.”

Julie Arblaster

Julie Arblaster, Associate Professor, Monash School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment

“I would like to see more girls taking up STEM subjects, and for everyone to be excited about science and the opportunities it brings. My advice to women who aspire to a career or study in STEM is to keep searching until you find something you love to do and an environment that supports you to do it. My work involves using computer models to simulate the Earth’s atmosphere and ocean: how they move, interact and may change in the future as a result of fossil fuel emissions. I hope the knowledge my area of research has gained since we first discovered greenhouse gases trapped heat (over 100 years ago!) will be used to inform policy decisions about climate change. We’ve been hoping that for many years now, but slow progress is better than none. What’s great about life now is being busy with a young child. I love the flexibility and adventure that my job brings in the detective work it can take to find answers to our scientific questions. I’m also enjoying learning about the world through the eyes of a 3 year old.”

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 one of the few researchers to find an academic position.”

Dr Victoria Blair

Dr Victoria Blair, Discovery Early Career Research Fellow (DECRA), Monash School of Chemistry

“On International Women and Girls in Science Day, I would like to see everyone, male and female coming together to celebrate all our achievements and contributions to science. Change only happens with momentum. My advice to women aspiring to a career or study in Science is to never underestimate yourself! I work in chemistry research, developing new multi-metallic systems capable of functionalising small molecules. I like to think of what I do as designing new and better multi-functional tools that can be used for lots of jobs! I'm one more woman in science, inspiring girls to pursue a scientific career and believe in themselves. At the moment what keeps me up all night is my one-year-old son, unfortunately. What’s great about life right now is spending the summer with family and friends from Scotland as well as the occasional whiskey!”