Women in science

WEHI is aware of the challenges experienced by women to make the transition from postdoctoral fellow to laboratory head, and from there to more senior roles.

Although women have made up the majority of biology undergraduates for decades, progress towards parity at senior levels has been glacial.

We aim to maximise opportunities for research discoveries. To do this we must use our entire talent pool.

Professor Lynn Corcoran Early Learning Centre

WEHI is the first medical research institute in Australia to establish its own on-site Early Learning Centre, as part of its commitment to gender equity.

Recognising our women researchers

Cory Fellowship

To celebrate WEHI’s fifth director Professor Suzanne Cory, we created a $1.25 million, five-year fellowship for new women laboratory heads.

Craven and Shearer Award

Women postdoctoral fellows and women laboratory heads are invited to apply for a limited number of support packages of up to $15,000 per annum to assist with childcare costs for pre-school-age children.

Page-Betheras Award

Women researchers can experience a period of reduced productivity while on maternity leave. This can potentially impede the transition from postdoctoral fellow to laboratory head. When planning maternity leave, women postdoctoral fellows are encouraged to discuss additional technical support with their division head and the director.

Equal representation at WEHI-sponsored meetings

All WEHI symposia aim to have equal representation of speakers and session chairs. This encompasses committees, seminars, lectures and conferences as well as those sponsored by the institute.

Organisations that use WEHI’s facilities to host their events and activities are encouraged to do the same and ensure equal representation.

Supporting our women researchers

Family and lactation rooms

A family room is available in both Parkville and Bundoora campuses. This facility allows parents to care for their infants and children when regular childcare arrangements fall through. Lactation rooms are available for mothers to breast-feed infants, as well as express and store milk.

Meeting and travel support

Women postdoctoral fellows and women laboratory heads with pre-school-age children can apply to their division heads for support to attend meetings and conferences, participate in peer-review committees and other academic activities.

Additional time for contract renewal

The period between an initial five-year appointment as a laboratory head and renewal of this position often coincides with bearing and raising children. WEHI provides such women with an additional 12 months (per child) before they will be assessed for appointment renewal.

A dynamic research organisation

We have instigated a number of measures to ensure our staff and students enjoy a great working environment.

WEHI offers a range of flexible and hybrid working arrangements to help people balance their work and home responsibilities.

Family-friendly meeting times are scheduled to begin after 9:30am and prior to 4:30pm, this allows for appropriate scheduling.

WEHI has a generous parental leave policy and offers support for new and returning parents.

Gender pay gap

Significant progress has been made in recent years in reducing the pay gap between men and women at WEHI.

The gender pay gap measures the difference in average earnings between women and men in the workforce (and is therefore influenced by both external and internal factors such as disparities across organisations, industries and society more broadly). This measure is different to ‘equal pay’ which ensures that men and women are paid the same for the same or similar work.

WEHI’s 2022/23 gender pay gap (3%) continues a downward trend, and is relatively small in comparison to the Australian average (around 20%).

We are committed to closing the remaining gender pay gap through new measures and continuing successful initiatives already in place to support women in science.

As a proud and active member of the Champions of Change Coalition (CCC) we support the commitment, action and approach for closing gender pay gaps in the 2024 report, Closing gender pay gaps: Our action and commitment.

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Illuminate Winter 2024
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