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UC faculties sign up as academic partners for gender equity network Franklin Women

Suzanne Lazaroo

14 July 2021: The University of Canberra’s Faculty of Health and Faculty of Science and Technology have signed on as 2021 Academic Partners for Franklin Women, furthering their support for greater gender equity in the fields of health and medical research.

Franklin Women is a social enterprise and professional community which supports the participation and retention of women in health and medical research careers. Its network of members, partners and supporters hovers around 10,000 individuals.

According to information from Franklin Women, more women enter health science-related degrees than men, but are significantly underrepresented in senior positions in the health and medical research sector, and face barriers to participation.

This gender inequity has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as captured in the Australian Academy of Science’s recently-released report, Impact of COVID-19 on women in the STEM workforce.

“Girls and young women are already interested in pursuing health and health research related careers,” said Founder of Franklin Women, Dr Melina Georgousakis.

“Where we need to focus our attention is in making sure they enter a professional environment where they can thrive, at each stage of their career journey.”

This a mission closely aligned to the University of Canberra’s own focus on equity.

While Executive Dean Professor Michelle Lincoln heads the University’s Faculty of Health, the Faculty of Science and Technology is helmed by Executive Dean Professor Janine Deakin.

“I have personally seen that when women engage with Franklin Women and all it has to offer – they find a place to talk about their challenges, celebrate their successes and be comfortable with who they are and what they bring to the fields of science, technology and health,” said Professor Lincoln.

“As a woman in STEM, I know what a difference it can make when you feel part of a supportive community and I’m looking forward to seeing our staff and students benefit from all that the Franklin Women community has to offer,” said Professor Deakin.

In addition to the two University of Canberra faculties, Franklin Women announced nine other Academic Partners for the year. These organisations will invest in the development of their female staff and students, prioritise gender equity, and take action to remove systemic barriers to achieving diverse and inclusive workplaces.

“Great strength and opportunity comes from bringing together organisations with a shared vision and who want to drive change together – collectively, our impact will be greater than what any of us could achieve on our own,” said Dr Georgousakis.