Respect Women in Research

We know that more women than ever before are entering STEM fields, and there’s no shortage of women relative to men at the entry and lower levels of the scientific hierarchy.

But there is still a big gap between the number of men and women in senior leadership roles.

At the lowest level of the hierarchy in Parkville’s medical research institutes, there are almost three times as many women as men. But by the time you get to the top, there are five times more men than women.

There are clearly barriers to keeping and promoting women which means men still dominate at the higher levels of medical research.

This is simply unacceptable and we must do something about it.

Barriers to women’s success in medical research unfairly impede their careers and limit the potential for women to make groundbreaking discoveries that could benefit everyone. 

  • Men have easier access to career enhancing opportunities than women, such as funding, attending conferences and publishing.
  • Access to these career opportunities is especially severely limited by any loss of momentum in a scientist’s career, such as parental or carer’s leave.
  • Work arrangements are inflexible for those who need flexible hours or part-time work, such as people returning from parental leave or with childcare responsibilities.
  • Unconscious biases and culture continue to devalue women’s scientific contributions relative to men’s in an industry where it’s a lot about ‘who you know’ not just ‘what you know’.

Many medical research institutes have recognised some or all of these barriers, and are working towards a fairer workplace.

But a male-dominated culture in laboratories, research teams, and work practices continues to impede progress. Medical research institutes have limited resources, and efforts to break down barriers to women’s success don’t have the people and funding they need to succeed.

The Victorian Greens support the Women in Science Parkville Precinct’s campaign to establish the Victorian Centre for Gender Equity in Science.

We have a plan to provide $1.8 million in funding over three years to establish the centre.

The centre will empower collective and grassroots action within clusters of institutes and organisations to work together and achieve gender equity in science leadership.

It will test new ideas through a robust evidence base, to evaluate the impact of policy on both gender equity and research results.

It will track progress, by collecting data  on equity in access to resources, career-development and leadership opportunities.

It will shape policy, by evaluating existing and new initiatives and identifying key areas for reform with a strong evidence base.

We need leadership from government to promote and support women in science to break down the barriers to women in science. The Victorian Centre for Gender Equity in Science is an important step towards an equal society.

You can read the Women in Science Parkville Precinct's full policy here.