Women In Science Appeal

Burnet Institute

03 November, 2016

IMAGE: Dr Sarah Charnaud

Burnet Institute has launched the Burnet Women In Science Appeal to raise awareness and target a $200,000 fund to retain female scientists and technicians in the workforce.

Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC urged supporters to get behind the Women in Science Appeal, saying it was devastating that women were leaving science in large numbers due to pay inequity and bias.

“Every time we lose a scientist, we potentially lose a cure for cancer, HIV or malaria,” he said.

“Historically, medical research has not been friendly to women. We know of so many women who gave up being mothers to focus on their scientific or medical careers.

“Or women who have done the opposite and lost out on a coveted promotion or award.”

Funds raised through the Appeal will enable female scientists to attend leadership programs and science conferences, as well as providing laboratory support through periods of maternity leave.

Burnet malaria researcher Dr Sarah Charnaud recently helped discover a molecular gateway involved in the transport of malaria proteins into human cells, representing a possible step towards a cure for one of the world’s most devastating infectious diseases.

She has known the exhilarating ‘Eureka’ moments that represent the peaks of a scientific career – but she has also seen the challenges throughout.

“There’s lots of women studying science, but few professors and that’s still the issue – more women studying but less women moving higher up,” she said.

“The pay gap in science is the biggest in any industry in Australia, and the research on who gets grant money shows it is the men more than the women.

“I try and submit papers under SCharnaud. Sometimes I feel disheartened about my future career prospects because of the challenging funding situation in Australia and biases against women scientists.

“I’ll keep going as long as I can because I love what I do. But if I feel I can’t reach my potential, I may have to do something else.”

Dr Charnaud is keen to pursue a leadership role in science in the future. In December this year, she will soon join 77 other scientists on a self-funded leadership expedition to Antarctica, designed to push boundaries and create a global collaboration of women in science.

The expedition, called Homeward Bound, is the start of a 10 year outreach initiative to build a 1,000 strong global collaboration for women in science.

You can donate to the Burnet’s Women In Science Appeal here.


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