Women in STEM committee

Women in STEM committee

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The Faculty of Science and Engineering at Macquarie University is home to a large community of women studying and working in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Discover the outstanding work of our women researchers, and explore the resources, events and networks supporting and celebrating women in STEM.

Committee members


End-of-Year Morning Tea: Women in STEM

Thank you to the Laboratories Credit Union, which kindly sponsored our End-of-Year Morning Tea to celebrate our achievements and our activities during 2019. The LCU website: https://www.lcu.com.au/

Our speaker, Prof Judith Dawes, looked back on our year. This included regular morning teas to welcome members of the Faculty to different departments (Physics and Astronomy, Maths and Stats, Earth and Planetary Science, Biological Sciences, Chiropractic, Molecular Sciences and the School of Engineering. We held a workshop to develop Negotiation Skills, a talk on Diversity in Astronomy by Dr Franck Marchis, talks by Dr Tayyaba Zafar and Dr Katrina Sealey on their participation in Homeward Bound, a Women in Engineering Leadership Summit, and an inspiring talk by A/Prof Ronika Power (Superstar of STEM) on Finding Your Voice. We hope that members of the Faculty were able to participate in some of these events!

We also celebrate a Bronze Award to Macquarie University for the SAGE initiative.

Our committee wishes everyone a wonderful and satisfying holiday break, and all the best for the New Year!

Women in STEM end-of-year

We celebrated the end of 2019 in style, with a lovely morning tea sponsored by the Laboratories Credit Union. Two of the LCU staff, Sally Boswell and Leanne Harris, are pictured with their banner.

August 5, 2019 - Franck Marchis gives a discussion on diversity in planetary science

Franck Marchis presented the work of the Professional Culture and Climate Subcommittee of the Division for Planetary Science (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society whose mission is to identify actions that promote and ensure a broadly inclusive professional community characterized by respect, honesty, and trust, so that people of diverse backgrounds are, and perceive themselves to be, safe, welcomed and enabled to thrive as planetary scientists. He discussed his personal experience as an immigrant, Asian, African, LGBTQ, and father and presented some of the Subcommittee’s recommendations.

Dr Franck Marchis

July 25, 2019 - Faculty Women in STEM Committee & Dept of Molecular Sciences Morning Tea

This event was co-hosted by the Department of Molecular Sciences. Participants enjoyed scones and pastries on a warm winter's morning looking over a beautiful garden (thank you to our Biology colleagues!) next to the balcony. Lindsay Parker and Sophie Goodchild (FSE Women in STEM committee member) spoke about their journeys to become who they are today. Thank you, Lindsay and Sophie for your inspiring stories!

MolSci morning tea

June 07, 2019 - Faculty Women in STEM Committee & Dept of Chiropractic Morning Tea

On Friday 7 June, the Department of Chiropractic and Faculty Women in STEM committee hosted our monthly morning tea in the Chiropractic Clinic to celebrate the last day of classes.  Ashley Wheeler and her colleagues did a lovely job catering for the attendees from different departments across the Faculty with a selection of foods for all tastes. Thanks very much to all for coming!

FSE Women in STEM Morning Tea

May 29, 2019 - Finding your voice seminar presented by Associate Professor Ronika Power

In a wonderfully engaging seminar, Assoc. Prof. Ronika Power, Superstar of STEM and bio-archaeologist, challenged her audience to find their life’s purpose, and in doing so, to “find their voice”. Ronika is one of Science and Technology Australia’s inaugural Superstars of STEM, and she aims to smash stereotypes about women and girls doing Science, Technology, Maths and Engineering.

Ronika began by warmly welcoming everyone and she invited us to meet each other. Ronika uses stories to connect with people, and this was ultimately her message for us to help us to find our own voices.  She explained her research in terms of creating narratives: she synthesises data from many sources - artefact, mummies, forensic techniques, to tell stories of people from the past - about their lives and deaths.  Stories provide ways for us to make sense of our experience and create a narrative structure for the information we want to convey. To make our stories compelling, we need to speak from the heart, and we need to understand our audience, whether that is one person or one thousand people.

Ronika Power seminar

May 15, 2019 - Faculty Women in STEM Committee & Dept of Biological Science morning tea

The Department of Biological Sciences co-hosted a lovely morning tea, with the women in STEM committee, with the theme: STEM and having kids. We specifically invited colleagues who are currently on parental leave to attend.

Biological Sciences Head of Department, Distinguished Prof Michelle Leishman introduced our speakers Dr Lizzy Lowe and Dr Chris Reid who both had recently taken parental leave (and Lizzy is still on it). They described their experience of being a parent of a new-born, and the support they received from the University in taking this leave. They also talked about maintaining contact with colleagues during the leave.

The biologists are terrific bakers as the morning tea was delicious! We thank Prof Mariella Herberstein (Chair of the Biology EDI committee), Prof Rob Harcourt (Women in STEM committee), Jenny Ghabache and Annie van Uden (organisation and promotion) and our speakers Chris Reid and Lizzy Lowe from the department.

Photo collage morning tea with people and food

May 2, 2019 - Homeward Bound: Voyage to Antarctica

Katrina Sealey and Tayyaba Zafar, AAO-MQ spoke to an enthusiastic audience of Faculty staff, students (and children) about their experience of Homeward Bound.

Homeward Bound is a global leadership initiative to create a network of 1000 women with a background in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine). Each year women in STEMM are selected from across the globe and they engage in a year-long program to develop their leadership and strategic skills towards shaping the future of our planet. The program culminates with a 3 week voyage to Antarctica to provide the final deep dive in the leadership program and experience first-hand the climate change crisis humankind is facing.

In 2018-2019, Homeward Bound selected 80 women from 26 nationalities as their 3rd cohort. Dr. Katrina Sealey and Dr. Tayyaba Zafar from Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO-MQ) were chosen to be part of this cohort. They visited Antarctica during December 2018 - January 2019, where they completed the last part of the leadership program and experienced the effects of climate change.

Read the full report here.

April 10, 2019 - Faculty Women in STEM Committee & Dept of Physics and Astronomy morning tea

The joint Department of Physics and Astronomy and Faculty Women in STEM committee morning tea was a lovely event with many new faces to welcome to the department.

The event began with an Acknowledgement of country and welcome by Mike Steel, Head of Department. Mike spoke about the Physics and Astronomy Department equity, diversity and inclusion committee and its activities. Mike also provided homemade cupcakes, each decorated with the name and image of a scientific woman.

Devika Kamath, a new Superstar of STEM, was the featured speaker who engagingly described her personal story of her motivation to study astrophysics, and her plan to offer mentoring for students from India and South America who seek opportunities to pursue careers in STEM.  Devika also gave some background on the Superstars of STEM and Science and Technology Australia, the peak representative body of Science and Technology in Australia, which runs the program.

Kelly Sharpless created a surreal "physics" invitation and took some great photos.  And behind-the-scenes logistics, organisation and catering was capably provided by Sue Lumley, Kelly Sharpless, Megha Patel and Emma Hastings.

Thanks to all who made the event a great success!

FSE Morning Tea

March 8, 2019 - The Faculty of Science and Engineering celebrated International Women's Day

The Faculty of Science and Engineering celebrated International Women's Day with a parallel celebration of the first birthday of WOMEESA at afternoon tea. It was a great turn out with men and women from across the Faculty coming to hear from our speakers and to network.

We are grateful to Ms April Foote and A/Prof Heather Handley (Earth and Planetary Science and WOMEESA) and Ms Jenny Fang (Earth and Planetary Science) who organised the event and Ms Kelly Sharpless (Physics and Astronomy) for photography. April gave an overview of WOMEESA – it is thriving as a unified Australasian network of women working in Earth and Environmental Sciences in academia, industry and government.

Representing the Faculty of Science and Engineering Women in STEM committee, Prof Judith Dawes introduced Dr Fatemeh Salehi and Ms Naila Mukhtar (School of Engineering), who described their experiences at the Women in Engineering Leadership Summit in 2018, which Naila helped to organise. They identified the importance of leadership qualities such as ethics and team spirit. Relating to the theme for International Women’s Day in 2019, “Balance for Better” they highlighted the extra value that diverse and inclusive teams bring to an enterprise. Their experience has inspired them to run two events at Macquarie to promote leadership for women in engineering!

A/Prof Elena Belousova introduced an historical and cultural perspective - Women's Day originated in Russia after the Revolution and is still celebrated on March 8 in combination with Mothers’ Day as a public holiday. She gave us a wonderful positive message about starting a new life at the age of 30 when she came to Australia with limited English, later enrolling in a PhD at Macquarie, working hard, seizing new opportunities, and she is still with us!

January 31, 2019 - Faculty Women in STEM Committee & Dept of Maths and Stats morning tea

What a fantastic Morning Tea we had last Thursday 31 January co-hosted by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and the Faculty Women in STEM committee. With around 70 colleagues in attendance across the Faculty of Science and Engineering, great conversations and networking were had over tea, coffee and treats.

Looking forward to the next one!

Our activities

Dr Franck Marchis, an Astronomer with the SETI Institute discussed Diversity in Astronomy - Why should we care?

Franck showed data on minority representation in Planetary Science with suggestions to make our science more welcoming.

The data suggests the leaky pipeline significantly affects minority astronomers post PhD: the barriers might be microaggression, implicit bias, salary discrepancy, and rumours. Parents are a minority in the field!

Franck recommended formalising improvements such as

  • Implicit bias training
  • Diversity plenary at the annual meeting
  • Professional Culture and Climate Subcommittee to analyse data from meeting survey.
  • Professional Culture and Climate Subcommittee members to be on both the scientific and local organising committees

Actions by the subcommittee:

  • Document how to host a divisional meeting
  • Survey Membership to find out if they are skipping meetings due to accessibility concerns
  • Ask the overall American Astronomical Society to collect demographic data
  • Set up a rubric for prizes - more transparent

What can you do?

  • Fill out surveys after meetings - include positive and negative comments
  • Fill out demographic information for the Society
  • Get involved in your professional society
  • Pay attention to whom you work with - who is missing in your collaborations?
  • Think along multiple axes - gender, race, LGBTQ, ability
  • Read blogs and books on these topics - be informed!
  • Set up a code of conduct for your collaborations - get researchers to sign it and kick them out for repeated violations! (Codes of conduct exist already - find one)
  • Call space missions feminine/ Latino/ African names

How to change the culture: tell personal stories about the impact of the change/ policy/ culture

The culture of Science/ Astronomy is not family friendly - as an industry. One postdoc is ok but not serial postdocs. Precarious work environment and casualisation is too difficult for ECRs with families.

Negotiation Skills Workshop

In May, the Faculty Women in STEM committee teamed up with Dr Emma Bowen (Faculty General Manager) and Rachel Brady (HR) to offer a workshop to staff in the Faculty on Negotiation Skills. This workshop was offered in response to the survey of the Faculty in 2018 in which the number one skills development request was for improved negotiation skills. The workshop was very well received by all who attended, and we hope that as a result, more members of staff have the capacity to analyse and plan for their preferred outcome and to negotiate effectively to achieve it.

IEEE Women in Engineering Leadership summit

Naila Mukhtar of the School of Engineering writes about her experience both helping to organise and then to attend the IEEE Women in Engineering Leadership summit, held in November 2018 in Brisbane.   Fatemeh Salehi also attended the summit with support from the Faculty.

Read Naila's blog.

(Naila is third from the left on the picture below)

FSE Women in STEM on Twitter

The Faculty Women in STEM committee is working to enhance the profile of women in the Faculty. To that end, we have created an FSE Women in STEM twitter account. https://twitter.com/STEMwomenMQ

Please follow us! Please retweet! Please send us examples or news items concerning Women at MQ Faculty of Science and Engineering that would be appropriate for this account.

Women and Girls in Science Day - 11 February 2019

People around the world are celebrating "Women and Girls in Science Day" on Monday 11 February. View the UN website  http://www.un.org/en/events/women-and-girls-in-science-day/

Work-life Panel Discussion

Co-organised with the IEEE Women in Engineering group

Part 1 - Can you achieve work-life balance
Part 2 - Career tips from a STEM panel discussion

Gender Equity in STEM Recruitment Workshop and Seminar

8 November 2018 - Professor Marlene Zuk, University of Minnesota - Evolutionary Biologist, and Dean of Faculty

Professor Marlene Zuk gave a seminar and workshop on Gender Equity in STEM Recruitment to a diverse group from the Faculty of Science and Engineering and other Faculties and Offices in the University. Find out more

Launch of WOMEESA

A unified Australasian network of women working in Earth and Environmental Sciences in academia, industry and government

Find out more

The Hidden Figures of STEMM: A Photographic Exhibition

The Hidden Figures of STEMM photo exhibition (Part 1, Part 2) grew from the collection of “forgotten women of science” collated over many years by Michael Gillings from the Department of Biological Sciences. The display was conceived by Lesley Hughes as part of Macquarie University’s Gender Equity Week. Follow the links below for Individual Hidden Figure profiles.

Ada Lovelace Annie Jump Cannon
Barbara McClintockBeatrix Potter
Cecilia GaposchkinChien Wu
Dorothy HodgkinElizabeth Gould
Emmy NoetherEsther Lederberg
Eunice FooteFrances Kelsey
Hedwig KieslerHenrietta Leavitt
Irene CurieJocelyn Burnell
Katherine JohnsonLise Meitner
Maria MerianMarie Tharp
Marjorie LatinerMary Anning
Nettie StevensRosalind Franklin
The Scott SistersVera Rubin

Women making a difference webpage

Find out more

Minutes of recent meetings

More information

Unconscious bias in hiring committees

It is Faculty policy for all hiring panels to discuss unconscious bias before shortlisting candidates for interview.

Visit the RRI-tools website

Visit the Royal Society website

Harvard implicit association test

You can test your own biases.

Find out more

University Policies on Staff and Student Conduct

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