ACT Chief Minister and Minister for Health, Katy Gallagher today announced the establishment of the Judith Whitworth Fellowship for Gender Equity in Science at an event held at The John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University (ANU).
“This new Fellowship, which is believed to be the first of its kind at any Australian University, was established to encourage and reward young scientists who have taken maternity leave or parental leave from their academic career,” the Chief Minister said.
“Scientists who take time out of their academic career to become parents or to care for young families can find it difficult to maintain funding competitiveness as chief or principal investigators in fellowships and win research grants at a national or international level upon their return to work.
“And while this is an issue which confronts many parents as they weigh the decision of when, or if to have children, female scientists who are also parents are finding it particularly difficult to re-establish their medical research work,” the Chief Minister said.
A number of Government agencies, including the National Health and Medical Research Council, have established committees to find ways to address some of barriers faced by scientists who take maternity or parental leave mid-career.
“The contribution made by these scientists is critical to maintaining scientific capability in medical research in Australia and this Fellowship will go some way to achieving greater equality in academic workplaces. It also recognises the important work being undertaken, particularly by women, in the field of medical research,” the Chief Minister said.
The Judith Whitworth Fellowship will provide salary and research support for two years for scientists who are employed at an Australian or overseas academic Institution as a postdoctoral fellow or equivalent.
“The Fellowship placement will be at The John Curtin School of Medical Research, which means the scientific community in Canberra and is hoped it will attract new and highly talented and trained academics, or help retain those who already live here,” the Chief Minister concluded.
The Fellowship is named in honour of Emeritus Professor Judith Whitworth AC, who was Director of The John Curtain School of Medical Research from August 1999 until July 2009.