Jika Kami mahukan An Boom Idea, Kita Perlu Lebih Wanita Di Puncak Tiers Sains

Tanya Monro (kiri), Emma Johnston (tengah) dan Nalini Joshi (kanan) di Kelab Akhbar Kebangsaan. Kelab Akhbar Kebangsaan AustraliaTanya Monro (kiri), Emma Johnston (tengah) dan Nalini Joshi (kanan) di Kelab Akhbar Kebangsaan. Kelab Akhbar Kebangsaan Australia

On Wednesday May 30, Emma Johnston, Nalini Joshi and Tanya Monro spoke at the National Press Club for a special Women Of Science event. Here they outline their views on how to promote greater participation by women at the top levels of science.


Few of us would imagine accepting that our daughters have fewer options than our sons. And yet that is exactly the situation we allow to persist in Australian science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) today.

The 2016 woman scientist’s story starts well enough, particularly when you compare it with her 1960s counterpart.

Fifty-six per cent of undergraduates and half of PhD students are female. Even better, almost 60% of junior science lecturers are female.

These bright, talented people are eager to find cures for all cancers, explain dark energy, invent faster mobile phones, design robots, become astronauts and prove the Riemann hypothesis, a millennial open problem in mathematics.

But towards the top end, things are very different. In STEM, women comprise about 16% of top-level professors. That figure rises to 23% if you include medicine.

Our own personal stories reflect this: when Tanya Monro arrived at Adelaide University in 2005 she was its first female professor of physics, even though there had been physics professors there since the 1880s.

In 2002, Nalini Joshi was appointed the first woman professor of mathematics at the University of Sydney, Australia’s oldest university.

In this respect, Australia is frozen in time. We are throwing away our opportunity to harness the huge intelligence and prodigious drive of the females already in the research workforce. How is this so different to the 1950s when talented women like Ruby Payne-Scott, one of the inventors of radio astronomy, when she was required to resign as soon as she was married?

The push now is often subtler, embedded in principles, conventions and bias that is rarely visible. Modern science is still conducted within organisational cultures that resemble a feudal monastery; information is power and it is tightly held, it is difficult to find anything unless you know the right person to ask, survival rests on competition to be noticed by a “nobility”.

Unconscious, subjective conventions have evolved in response and that impacts everyone, both men and women.

As a nation, by forcing half our potential innovators to work much harder to reach the same seniority as the other half, we are doing ourselves a grave disservice.

Buried bias

The standard of living for future Australians depends on how effectively we can bring innovation into our businesses. We know that 75% of jobs in the fastest-growing industries require STEM skilled workers, and since last year’s announcement of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), it appears we’re in an ideas boom.

NISA proposes “encouraging our best and brightest minds to work together to find solutions to real world problems and to create jobs and growth”.

We agree. And we propose that the single most powerful response Australia could mount to this challenge would be to transform the relationship between women and science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Australia is at, or near the bottom, of the OECD rankings in a range of critical innovation measures. The reasons for this are complex and multi-faceted, but a big one surely has to be that a huge proportion of our great thinkers – our potential science and innovation leaders – are being subtly and pervasively pushed out of STEM. Not based on their merit but based on gender.

A Kajian 2014 found that without any information other than a candidate’s appearance (making gender clear), both males and females are twice as likely to hire a man than a woman to complete a mathematical task.

A study published earlier this year found that both male and female undergraduates were more likely to explain a woman’s science-related setbacks by mentioning factors about her, such as “she was let go because she messed up an experiment". Whereas a man’s setbacks are more likely to be explained by contextual factors, such as “he was let go because there were budget cuts”.

Then there’s the “motherhood penalty”, with negative effects on income, career advancement, and perceived competence relative to both fathers and women without children.

Australia mesti mengejar perubahan. Manfaat perubahan yang jelas akan melampaui jantina, di luar identiti seksual, bangsa dan etnik. perubahan yang dapat memberitahukan masyarakat kita menjadi lebih kreatif, banyak, dan inovatif.

Tidak ada keraguan bahawa baik penglibatan wanita dalam STEM akan memacu semua bidang sains dan inovasi, dan mencapai aspirasi dinyatakan seluruh agenda NISA keseluruhan.

Memikirkan semula

Tidak ada penyelesaian atau perak peluru tunggal, tetapi hadiah adalah cukup besar bahawa ia adalah penting bahawa kita menangani setiap aspek isu ini.

Kita perlu mencabar andaian: yang pertama dan yang paling besar adalah bahawa ia hanya satu isu perancangan kerjaya. Ia tidak, dan kita tidak boleh hanya menunggu peredaran masa untuk menyelesaikannya.

Seterusnya, kita perlu memikirkan semula apa rekod penyelidikan yang baik kelihatan seperti. Apabila Tanya Monro terjamin Russian dia Fellowship dalam 2008, dia mempunyai tiga orang anak dan telah bergerak di seluruh dunia untuk menubuhkan makmal dari awal dalam tempoh lima tahun di mana rekod secara tradisional dinilai. Pada masa itu, proses permohonan dengan syarat tiada mekanisme untuk melanjutkan tetingkap masa di mana produktiviti beliau telah dinilai.

Kita perlu berfikir semula bahasa yang kita gunakan untuk menggambarkan wanita dan tingkah laku mereka. Lelaki sering dipanggil "tegas" di mana wanita yang dikenali sebagai "agresif". penyelidik lelaki yang mempunyai anak-anak yang lebih kerap digambarkan sebagai "saintis"; penyelidik wanita yang mempunyai anak-anak sering digambarkan sebagai "ibu". Kita boleh menjadi kedua-dua wanita dan tegas. Kita boleh menjadi kedua-dua saintis penyelidikan yang cemerlang dan ibu-ibu penyayang.

Dan kita perlu bekerja pada beralih berat sebelah yang sedar dan tidak sedar bahawa ramai daripada kita tidak mahu mengakui wujud. Sains pergi ke sedaya upaya untuk menghapuskan berat sebelah daripada pemerhatian dan eksperimen, namun ramai dalam bidang sains gagal untuk mengiktiraf dan bertindak balas kepada berat sebelah kita sendiri secukupnya.

Salah satu cara yang paling berkuasa untuk memerangi berat sebelah ini adalah melalui promosi tidak henti-henti model peranan - sebagai NISA mencadangkan - kita harus "mengetengahkan cerita menakjubkan inovator wanita yang berjaya di Australia dan usahawan". Walau bagaimanapun, media konsisten bawah mewakili wanita dalam bidang sains. Kita hanya perlu berfikir selebriti sains televisyen, dan juga di media sosial, untuk mendapati bahawa 92% daripada ahli-ahli sains Twitter paling berjaya adalah lelaki. Dan apabila para saintis wanita yang disebut, mereka cenderung untuk memberi tumpuan kepada penampilan kita atau status ibu bapa.

Kami bertiga telah melakukan sedikit kami untuk meningkatkan perwakilan wanita dalam media, mengambil setiap peluang untuk bercakap di khalayak ramai dan di radio dan televisyen - melalui berita, Q & A, Yang Kelab Akhbar Kebangsaan minggu ini, Coast Australia, Pemangkin, Dan lain-lain radio, TV dan media sosial.

Tabahkan hati

Berita baik adalah bahawa kita tahu bagaimana untuk menggubal perubahan. Sebahagian daripada ia adalah semudah perubahan struktur dan peraturan untuk meningkatkan kerjaya awal jaminan pekerjaan, menyediakan penjagaan ibu bapa yang boleh diakses oleh kedua-dua ibu bapa, mewujudkan fleksibiliti di tempat kerja, membolehkan rehat kerjaya dengan jaminan kemasukan semula, bergerak ke arah geran tanpa nama dan jurnal semula proses, memperuntukkan pengajaran dan tugas-tugas pentadbiran yang telus dan nilai mereka tugas-tugas.

Kita perlu menolak terhadap apa "hukuman ibu", dan terdapat beberapa keuntungan sebenar dalam tahun-tahun kebelakangan ini. Sebagai contoh, perubahan kepada kriteria Majlis Penyelidikan Australia, yang kini membolehkan untuk kriteria pemilihan Peluang Penyelidikan dan Bukti Prestasi (ROPE) Untuk menggantikan konsep "rekod".

Kita juga mesti memeluk watak negara: komuniti kami pelbagai, agak hierarki rata dan kesediaan untuk mencabar dan mengambil risiko.

Kita perlu bersedia untuk melaksanakan kuota atau sasaran. Anda hanya perlu melihat kejayaan konsisten Akademi Teknologi dan Kejuruteraan (ATSE) Pernah ada dalam membawa masuk sebilangan besar Fellows perempuan cemerlang sepanjang dekad yang lalu, dan baru-baru ini perkembangan menyenangkan di Akademi Australia Sains (AAS).

Kita perlu mengingatkan diri kita bahawa setiap kali kita melihat ruang yang mana tidak ada tenaga kerja yang pelbagai kita tidak mempunyai orang-orang yang terbaik untuk tugas itu.

Sebahagian daripada penyelesaian telah pun dijalankan di United Kingdom selama lebih dari sepuluh tahun. The Athena SWAN program requires participating organisations to look internally, find out where the holes in their own career pipelines are and propose action plan to address these holes. The charter then rates organisations based on these policies and practices, rewarding them with gold, silver or bronze awards.

The AAS and ATSE have joined together to mount a pilot of the Athena SWAN program as part of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (or SAGE) initiative. Thirty-two enthusiastic organisations have already signed up to participate in the pilot.

Even the first step, – data collection and analysis – will be a challenge for most pilot participants. Of course they know how many women work there and how many may be promoted there, but they have probably not considered questions like how many are in the eligible pool for the next promotion or how long a period qualified female staff have waited before being promoted.

The Athena SWAN evaluations in the UK tell us that the outcomes will encourage and improve the working life of everyone, whether they are men or women.

Australia stands today with an unparalleled opportunity to engage the next generation of potential scientists. We simply cannot afford to lose so many of the talented people that we produce. So many great ideas that go elsewhere.

Imagine if we could encourage and keep these talented people. Imagine the great ideas doubling our Nobel Prize winners. Imagine being in a room full of female STEM professors.

Imagine the ideas boom then.

Mengenai Pengarang

Emma Johnston, Professor of Marine Ecology and Ecotoxicology, Director Sydney Harbour Research Program, UNSW Australia.

Nalini Joshi, Professor of Mathematics, University of Sydney.

Tanya Monro, Deputy Vice Chancellor Research & Innovation, University of South Australia

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