The Queensland Government has supported 131 women researchers across Queensland with funding of up to $25,000 to help them continue important research while on maternity leave, or to assist with the cost of childcare.
Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said today (Saturday) the government’s Advance Queensland Women’s Academic Fund has made a “positive difference in the lives of these talented female researchers.”
“The Palaszczuk Government recognises Australian women currently comprise fewer than one in five senior academics, and taking time off to start a family can present barriers to career progression,” Ms Enoch said.
“The Advance Queensland Women’s Academic Fund – part of our $405 million whole-of-government Advance Queensland initiative – is ensuring we retain, develop and progress our female researchers, and their important work in Queensland.
“Our original $1 million commitment to the fund has been exhausted, so the funding deadline was extended to the end of June, 2017.
“So far, we’ve invested more than $1.15 million through the fund to directly support a total of 131 women.
“This figure includes 87 women with maternity funding, 36 with carer funding, and eight grants for lecture funding.
“Feedback from women researchers on the importance of the program has been very encouraging,” Ms Enoch said.
One hundred and ten of the researchers are in Brisbane.
Cancer researcher Dr Katia Nones from Brisbane’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute accessed the fund during her five-month maternity leave last year.
“The Advance Queensland Women’s Academic Fund allowed the research projects to progress. If no funds had been available, these projects would have stalled,” Dr Nones said.
“The fund also reduced my workload on my return, making it easier to progress the research.”
Senior Research Dietitian at Mater Health Services in Brisbane Dr Shelley Wilkinson said the funding allowed her research on improving the health of Queensland mothers and babies to continue while she was on maternity leave.
“The funding allowed ongoing data collection for my project. This is important because my research to evaluate health care delivery is time dependent,” Dr Wilkinson said.
“The project also involved coordination and communication with health care teams at a variety of sites. Without someone in the role, while I was on leave, this would have ceased with the loss of data and project momentum.”
The Queensland Government also supports women researchers through the Queensland Women in STEM prize.
Dr Nasim Amiralian from The University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology received the Judge’s Choice Award for her groundbreaking research on spinifex nanofibers. The research is answering industry needs, including the development of stronger latex products such as surgical gloves and condoms.
In addition, Ms Jordan Debono, a PhD student at The University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences, was awarded the inaugural People’s Choice Award for her work on snake venom and interactions with blood. Her work may lead to the discovery of new drugs to fight heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Ms Enoch said the women each received $5000 prize money and are now science role models for young women and men, inspiring others to consider a career in STEM.
Queensland’s female researchers are invited to apply to the Advance Queensland Women’s Academic Fund at http://advance.qld.gov.au/uni-