Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science

On 11 February lets acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of women in science - and work together to encourage women and girls to pursue STEMM careers.

The UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February is a call to action: to promote full and equal access and participation in science for women and girls.

“Only 16% of Australia’s STEMM-skilled workforce are women.”
Australian Academy of Science, 2022

Here are just a few of our own female biomedical scientists working to advance health.

Role models in biomedical sciences

Dr Hui-Fern Koay, Dept Microbiology & Immunology, was recently awarded with a 2022 Fellow of the L’OrĂ©al-UNESCO For Women in Science (FWIS) for her research looking at unconventional T cells and targeted cancer treatments.

As an emerging scientific leader, Dr Koay is passionate about communicating science, to inspire the younger generation to follow in her footsteps, while championing diversity.

I want young girls to know that it is possible to be a successful scientist, to have a fulfilling career, as a woman, with a multicultural background.

Read more

Jenna Hall is a PhD Candidate in Prof Alice Pebay’s research group in the Dept of Anatomy & Physiology, looking at stem cells for ageing and eye diseases. Jenna says she was passionate about joining a woman-led stem cell lab.

What I hope to do after my PhD is make germline cells from stem cells to help couples and singles start families on a timeline best suited to them.

Meet Jenna

Dr Grace Burke (Dept of Anatomy & Physiology alumni) works for a surgical education facility specialising in the training of robot assisted surgery where she designs and produces hydrogel models for surgical simulation training.

It was appealing because it combined my anatomic knowledge from my undergrad degree, with tissue and mechanical engineering processes, in the context of robotic surgical education.

Meet Grace

Go behind the scenes with our researchers, teachers, students, alumni and collaborators in the Dept of Anatomy & Physiology and learn from their journey in biomedicine.

Watch: In the Lab

“Female researchers tend to have shorter, less well-paid careers. Their work is underrepresented in high-profile journals and they are often passed over for promotion.”
United Nations, 2023

Professor Justine Mintern from the Bio21 Institute, Dept of Biochemistry & Pharmacology, is a vaccine biology expert. She has recently been appointed as Associate Dean of Graduate Research where she will focus on enhancing the graduate research experience.

"I want to strengthen and enhance the wellbeing, career development training opportunities and high quality supervision for all of graduate research students across the School and Faculty."

Read more

Grant support

The School of Biomedical Sciences also support the career development and momentum of female researchers through a number of grants.

In 2019, the School introduced the MJ Gething Gender Equality Award to help early career researchers continue career momentum while also having significant caring responsibilities.

One of the recipients,  Dr Sapna Devi (Dept Microbiology & Immunology) is using innovative imaging technologies to understand how the two ‘supersystems’ of the body – the nervous and immune systems – communicate with each other to control immunity.

Having worked alongside other researchers who are also mothers, Sapna is optimistic about the future of the Biomedical Sciences, particularly for females aspiring to enter the field.

We have so many leading female researchers to seek aspiration from...we live in a time where there is now a change to advancing women and girls in STEMM. There are structures to help and support women scientists in their amazing work...and the MJ Gething Gender Equity Award is an excellent example of this.

Read more

In 2021, the $100,000 annual Fabienne Mackay Award was introduced to help one or more high performing, independent researchers to maintain research momentum following the birth or adoption of a child. Dr Laura Edgington-Mitchell, Head of Laboratory in the Bio21 Institute, Dept Biochemistry and Pharmacology, was the inaugural recipient of the award.

Fabienne Mackay was an inspirational and transformative leader and a trail blazer for female researchers. Obstacles that she once faced are no longer obstacles thanks to the tremendous perseverance of leaders like her.
Are you interested in pursing a career in STEMM in the School of Biomedical Sciences?
Explore these resources to get started: