ARC Laureate Sharon Parker
I am excited to launch this “Women In Research” website in Canberra, at the Australian Research Council’s Major Investments Forum.
The creation of this website is part of the fulfillment of my Kathleen Fitzpatrick role. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, AO, was an academic and historian. Apart from many other achievements, in 1948, she became Australia’s first female associate professor outside the natural sciences.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick is an inspirational role model – not only because of her success, but because of the obstacles she overcame to achieve that success. These obstacles included having to give up her academic job as a result of getting married (the policy at the time) and being told by the Appointments Board for one academic job that ‘women were only wanted for secretarial work’! Fortunately, such overt instances of discrimination against women are now illegal.
Nevertheless, women researchers still often face many challenges. This website is designed to support women researchers in addressing these challenges. We also provide material for mentors and managers of women, as well guidance for those looking to design diversity-friendly workplaces. As much as possible, we try to back up each topic with evidence, at the same time as including practical and personal tips from some of the most senior women researchers in the country.
On that note, one of the features of this website is short videos (and longer podcasts) of interviews with women Laureates and Centre of Excellence Directors. I have observed in these women the same grit, passion, and generosity that is evident in the academic life of Kathleen Fitzpatrick. In fact, interviewing these wonderful scholars as been one of the highlights of my career! I sincerely hope you enjoy watching and listening to these interviews, as much as I enjoyed conducting them.
Another feature of the website is the opportunity for women to participate in two free assessments: “Managing You” and “Managing Your Work Health & Well-Being”. When you complete a survey, you will receive a personalised feedback report that shows your responses compared to benchmarks, and that provides guidance to interpret your scores. These surveys are designed entirely to support your development (and curiosity!) without any performance evaluation. If you give permission, we will also use the data from these surveys for research. As we accumulate sufficient responses, I will profile findings here on this blog about the experiences of women researchers right across Australia.
What next? In the next few months, we will keep adding topics, include more surveys, and create an online community. There will be blogs profiling particular topics. We will also soon be announcing workshops across Australia open to all women researchers – these will be an opportunity to discuss topics on the website, connect with each other, and build the community. Please either sign up to the website or check in regularly to stay in touch with developments :-)
Last but not least…. I sincerely thank the Australian Research Council and Curtin University for investing in this project, and I am immensely grateful to the amazing team of women who have helped to prepare all aspects of this website: Carole, Jess, Julia, Cheryl, Michelle, Noor, Jill, and Kyra - thank you!
 In 2010 the ARC introduced the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship awarded to a highly ranked female laureate from the humanities, arts and social science disciplines. These Fellowships include additional funding for recipients to undertake an ambassadorial role to promote women in research.
Slides from my short presentation are now available.