Advancing women in science and engineering: how does Australia compare?

Public lecture Forum

Presenter: Prof. Sharon Bell, Charles Darwin University; Dr. Lisa M. Frehill, National Science Foundation
Event date: 
4–6pm 12 November 2015
Venue: Conference Room 1.02 , Sr Roland Wilson Building (#120), McCoy crt, ANU

Please register online

In November the Gender Institute is bringing to the ANU two distinguished experts on gender equity in science, who will reflect on the current state of knowledge and policy effectiveness in this area. This is a unique opportunity for everybody interested in gender equity in science to get together to debate how far we have yet to go and how to move forward.


Prof. Sharon Bell, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Charles Darwin University, will discuss the most recent findings from her studies of gender divides in Australian science. This research was motivated by the fact that in Australia women constitute a majority of undergraduate and higher degree research students. Yet, the semblance of parity disguises persistent patterns of inequality.  Growth in women’s participation remains primarily in disciplines that are historically highly feminized. Despite pressing and impending workforce needs, women in non-traditional areas of study as the equity category have fallen off the policy table, with the notable exception, and only recently, of women in science.

Sharon will discuss the recently released report ‘Women in the Science Research Workforce’ (2015), which focuses on biology and chemistry, as these two disciplines have experienced significant female participation up to the doctoral level for several decades. Postgraduate female biology and chemistry graduates, particularly chemistry graduates, enter a wide range of occupations in industry and government as well as in the science research workforce. This is a landmark report in that it is cross-sectoral in two important fields of science, draws on data from both men and women across all career stages and draws on evidence from those who have left the science research workforce.

Dr. Lisa M. Frehill, of the National Science Foundation, will present her recent research on the status of women in science and engineering cross-nationally.  Her talk will also discuss outcomes from the ADVANCE program funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation implemented to increase women’s access to academic careers in science and engineering.  Starting in 2000, the ADVANCE: Institutional Transformation Program has provided funds to U.S. universities and scientific societies to take stock of the status of women in science and engineering and to develop strategies to increase recruitment, retention, and advancement of women via positive institutional change.

Lisa implemented this program at two U.S. universities and worked on gender equity with two dozen other institutions in the U.S. and abroad. She has travelled to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan to consult and assist in the development of similar initiatives. Lisa’s background includes work as a General Motors industrial engineer, positions in academia, industry, not-for-profit organizations, and the U.S. government. Her sociological research, including her most recent co-edited book titled “Advancing Women in Science: An International Perspective” published in 2015 by Springer, concerns implementing organizational change to increase gender and ethnic equity.

Please register online by Tuesday 10 November