Women in the Science Research Workforce
This research project was designed to contribute to understanding of a ‘wicked problem’ that
appears to repeat itself in successive generations of women in science – the well-documented,
entrenched patterns of disadvantage associated with women’s participation in the science research
workforce. Despite the fact that outstanding women are increasingly achieving at the highest
levels, obtaining advanced scientific qualifications and taking key roles in the fields of science and
technology, women’s participation in the science research workforce continues to be characterised
by low levels of retention and success beyond the postdoctoral career stage.
The focus of the research was on the disciplinary fields of biology and chemistry, as these two
disciplines have experienced significant female participation up to the doctoral level for several
decades, and postgraduate female biology and chemistry graduates, particularly chemistry
graduates, enter a wide range of occupations in industry and government as well as in the science
research workforce. This project is distinctive in that it is cross-sectoral in two important fields of
science, and draws on data from both men and women across all career stages.
The research strongly suggests that new employment conditions and new career pathways are
needed to reframe patterns of participation and opportunities for success for a wider range of
entrants to the scientific research workforce. This is particularly the case in universities and research
institutes, as evidenced by the differences between the fields of biology and chemistry, but to achieve
this a better understanding of what opportunities exist, for whom, and in what professional contexts
The Toolkit is designed to help identify barriers and obstacles to career progression and to assist in generating alternatives and solutions noting that change is a marathon, not a sprint, for organisations as well as for individuals.
The report link is below
- women in science (3.5 MB)
- 28 February 2017, Melbourne Museum, MELBOURNE
- 8 March 2016, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND