Women’s fellowship supports research excellence
A three-year fellowship for an outstanding woman scientist is one of the first major initiatives of CERA’s new Gender Action Plan.
A new Women’s Fellowship for Excellence in Vision Research will be established at the Centre for Eye Research Australia.
Plans for the fellowship were announced by Deputy Director and Head of Macular Research Professor Robyn Guymer AM on International Women’s Day (8 March 2023).
The fellowship, a major initiative of CERA’s new Gender Action Plan, aims to encourage and develop the career of a researcher with high potential for future leadership in eye research.
It will be open to an existing high performing female vision researcher at CERA – or to attract a new woman researcher to add to CERA’s existing research program.
The CERA Foundation is providing funding to establish the fellowship – with the view to seeking further philanthropic funding in the future. The new position is to be filled later in 2023.
Professor Guymer said the three-year duration will enable the scientist appointed to this role to achieve the continuity and momentum needed in their work to be competitive in external funding schemes.
She thanked the CERA Foundation and its directors for supporting the new fellowship.
“The fellowship is a critical step in supporting the career development and advancement of women and creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace,’’ she said.
“It will also play a vital role in ensuring we attract the best researchers and can continue to deliver world-leading research at CERA.”
Gender Action Plan
The International Women’s Day event also launched CERA’s Gender Action Plan for 2023-2025.
CERA’s Managing Director Professor Keith Martin said the Gender Action Plan aimed to tackle the barriers across the medical research sector which impeded the career development of women and other under-represented groups.
It also recognised the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disproportionate burden this had placed on women scientists.
Professor Martin said research by the Australian Association of Medical Research Institutes showed the difficulties facing women scientists were experienced throughout the sector.
In some ways CERA was doing well, he said. The CERA Board had equal representation of men and women and a woman chair – and CERA’s executive team had five women and three men.
However, it was not a level playing field and there was still much work to be done.
“Power, pay and opportunity should not be adversely affected by our gender, our background, our ethnicity or the community we come from,’’ he said.
He emphasised that having a diverse and inclusive workplace would benefit vision research by ensuring CERA was able to attract and retain talented scientists.
The Gender Action Plan will include initiatives to minimise the impact of career breaks and review policies around academic promotion and career planning and examine the role of gender in medical research design.
It will also have a focus on supporting scientists at early and mid-career levels.
The Gender Action Plan and new Women’s Fellowship for Excellence in Vision Research were launched at a special event at CERA on International Women’s Day.
The event was compered by Glaucoma Research Fellow Dr Flora Hui, who is part of Science and Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM program.
It also featured a presentation by the co-chairs of CERA’s Gender Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee – Associate Professor Lyndell Lim and Associate Professor Peter van Wijngaarden – who outlined the major points of the new Gender Action Plan.
Associate Professor Lim was also joined by Professor Erica Fletcher, Dr Robyn Troutbeck, Dr Srujana Sahebjada and Dr Lisa Zhuoting Zhu for a panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges facing women scientists at different stage of their careers.