Prof Emeritus Mary-Jane Gething AO recognised in 2023 Honours

Mary-Jane Gething has been appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to Australia and humanity.

Image: Mary-Jane Gething meets with 2022 recipients of the MJ Gething Gender Equity Award.

Mary-Jane, Honorary Professor in the Dept of Biochemistry & Pharmacology, is a passionate supporter and advocate for young female researchers working in the biomedical sciences.

Her history with the University of Melbourne is a long one. Mary-Jane completed both her undergraduate studies and PhD here. She went on to spend twenty years conducting research into protein chemistry and molecular biology in the UK and USA before returning to the University of Melbourne in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (now known as the Dept of Biochemistry & Pharmacology).

She was subsequently appointed the first female Head of Department.

The beginning of Mary-Jane's activism for gender equity came in the 1970s when she noticed that of the small number of senior women academics she’d come across, most were either unmarried or childless. And so she joined the Community Controlled Child Care action group:

I hoped then that in future female researchers would be able to pursue a career in science that was compatible with raising a family

In 1976 Mary-Jane helped establish the London Rape Crisis Centre, the first such centre in Great Britain and was was an early member of the Women’s Electoral Lobby in Australia, an advocacy network who played a role in important policy changes around women's rights.

Together with her husband, she founded the Gething-Sambrook Family Foundation, which made the School's MJ Gething Gender Equity Award possible. To date, over 20 Early Career Researchers have received the award across the School since it was established in 2019.

Image: Prof Mary-Jane Gething with the 2019 recipients of the MJ Gething Gender Equity Award

Mary-Jane hopes that awards like these will support current ECRs with caring responsibilities to establish and progress their research careers.

I want young women contemplating careers in STEMM to have confidence that the research community is aware of gender inequity being a potential barrier to their success and is committed to its removal

It is for these significant contributions and others that Mary-Jane was recognised as an Officer of the Order of Australia this year.

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