The Annual General Meeting of WISENET Inc. was held on 17 April 1997 in Sydney at the Australian Museum's Search and Discover section, the venue by courtesy of Anne Skates. The Facilitator was Heather Rossiter. There were 21 members present and 9 apologies.
The minutes of the AGM for 1996 were received. The Financial Report from treasurer Sarah Miller, followed by the Journal Report from editor Jean Hollis Weber and the Activities Report from Diana Temple were accepted. These reports follow.
The following motion was discussed: "That the annual subscription to WISENET Inc be increased as follows: Ordinary Member, from $25 to $30; Institutional Member, from $30 to $35; Overseas Member, from $30 to $35; student/retired subscription to remain $10 at present; to take effect in 1998". Points raised during the discussion were that subscriptions have remained unaltered for 10 years and that an increase in subscription income is now necessary to pay for WISENET's affiliation with FASTS, the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, which is $1350 per annum. The motion was passed without dissent.
Speaker: Lesley Head of the School of Geosciences at the University of Wollongong, spoke of her very interesting discoveries and research with early Aboriginal artefacts at Jinmium in the far north-west of Australia. The article on page 9 covers much of the material in her talk.
The Central Link Team at present includes Sarah Miller, Kirstin Heiland, Carrie Bengston, Diana Temple. Its functions overlap those of the Editorial group, headed by Honorary Editor Jean Weber and including Heather Rossiter, Nicola Elliott, Judy Mackinolty and Diana Temple. Consultation occurs regularly by telephone, email and/or fax; meetings sometimes coincide with work sessions enveloping/addressing the WISENET Journal. Kirstin Heiland has become Membership Officer and maintains the membership database.
More help from members will always be welcome; Nicola Elliott's volunteered help this year is much appreciated
In particular, Diana Temple has been doing much of the central administrative work for WISENET since 1990, and would very much like to step aside for someone younger; she will stay in the job temporarily and hope that offer(s) come for a replacement. The time is overdue for the Central administration to move from Sydney to another part of Australia—Melbourne? Brisbane? Adelaide? Wollongong? Perth? back to Canberra where it began? Input from members is needed.
Sarah Miller has been expanding WISENET's email network.
WISENET special project — interesting science for schools!
WISENET successfully applied for a grant from the Department of Industry, Science and Technology Science and Technology Awareness Unit for 1997/8. The project is to produce a special issue of the WISENET Journal aimed at senior schoolgirls, describing particular scientists, young and mainly female, and interesting scientific work.
Affiliations and Liaisons
WISENET is part of three Australian coalitions, CAPOW (Coalition of Participating Organisations of Women), WIP (Women into Politics) and FASTS (Federation of Scientific and Technological Societies).
CAPOW is based in Canberra and keeps governments informed of issues of concern to Australian women. Its office, funded since its inception by the federal government, has recently suffered a large funding cut. The national convenor of CAPOW keeps participating organisations informed on relevant issues by fax. Margaret Hartley is WISENET's representative on CAPOW.
Women into Politics, based in Sydney, has members in most states. Its aims are to increase women's representation in all levels of government and on boards and committees. Diana Temple represents WISENET on WIP. Canberra WISENET members were invited to attend a national symposium on women in politics, held in Parliament House Canberra in September 1997, which was reported in WISENET Journal 43, Feb 1997. WIP has organised for 1997 a series of five evening lectures, "Defining Women's Rights for the 21st Century", in the theatrette at Parliament House Sydney.
FASTS. WISENET has recently accepted an invitation to becomes the first affiliate member, as opposed to full member, of FASTS. This entitles us to receive agenda and minutes of FASTS Board meetings, to attend and speak at FASTS' Annual Council, and copies of monthly circulars and draft submissions and documents for comment. FASTS, representing about 40,000 scientists, exerts considerable influence on science and technology policy. A successful Forum on science careers was recently held at the Canberra Press Club, organised by FASTS and the National Tertiary Education Union. WISENET accepted an invitation to participate and to chair a session; this was carried out by Dr Sue Stocklmayer.
Several informal lunchtime meetings of Canberra members have occurred. Dr Margaret Hartley, WISENET Canberra Link, has regularly attended the Round Table Meetings organised by the Office of the Status of Women for the Minister for the Status of Women; Margaret's reports on these meetings have appeared regularly in the WISENET Journal. Margaret has been our representative at CAPOW meetings. Sue Stocklmayer from the ANU represented WISENET at the FASTS careers Forum (see her report on page 2). WISENET was invited to participate in a women's careers conference arranged by ANU on April 29–30; Margaret Hartley will present a talk there on WISENET's approach to networking and careers in science.
Dr Sarah Ashmore organised for WISENET an exhibit at the Great Australian Science Show in June last year. This included a Women in Chemistry display produced by Mary Garson (University of Queensland), posters on Women into Science and Technology provided by Alison Turner (University of Central Queensland) and the WISENET history of women in science posters.
A current exhibition at the Queensland Museum, "Brilliant careers; women collectors and illustrators in Queensland", also involved Sarah Ashmore.
Last July a WISENET group together with ANZAAS NSW visited the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission Sydney Worksafe Laboratories at the invitation of Glena Ellitt, Manager of Ergonomics. Government economies have since caused the closure of these laboratories.
In August, eminent feminist scientist Evelyn Fox Keller visited Sydney for the Templeton Lecture on Gender, Language and Science. WISENET cosponsored another lecture by Evelyn Fox Keller on feminism and developmental biology.
In December, the Sydney group met and heard Leeta Caiger talk about her work with community groups and the environment, which she proposes to report in our Journal. At this meeting, fund-raising was discussed, with corporate sponsorship an option; firms suggested were Biotech, Clontech, Gene Search, Stratagene, Analchem, AMSR.
A one-day conference on issues related to WISENET objectives has been proposed for 1997 by WISENET member Gilda Segal and other academics. There will be further discussions.
Jean Hollis Weber
Since the 1996 Annual General Meeting, three issues of WISENET Journal have been produced. The editorial team currently comprises Diana Temple, Heather Rossiter, Nicola Elliott, Judy Mackinolty and myself.
Diana does far more than her share in organising and chasing articles, taking the Journal to the printer and the post office, and other administrative duties (in addition to everything else she does for WISENET).
Nicola has recently joined the editorial team, but has already made some very useful suggestions (and even more importantly, is following up on them), particularly in the area of obtaining advertising — a good example of the value of a fresh point of view. Nicola is also going to be working on the Web pages.
Judy continues her valuable work in compiling the "News and Crosslinks" section from a daunting collection of sources. Heather has written interviews, an article, a book report and an editorial. I am paid to do the layout and desktop publishing, but I donate the time I spend editing the Journal.
In addition to the editorial committee, Sarah Miller and Kirsten Heiland assist in enveloping, labelling and sorting the Journal for mailing.
The July 1996 issue of the Journal comprised 24 pages, November 1996 was 28 pages, and February 1997 had 29. Contents have included both original articles and reprinted material, with February's issue relying heavily on reprints. While we would prefer to have more original material, we hope that the reprints bring together items of interest that many members would not otherwise see. For example, now that WISENET is affiliated with FASTS, we will be providing excerpts from FASTS' Circulars; the first one appeared in the February issue.
In July Diana began a column titled "WISENET in Action", to keep members informed of our activities, many of which go on "behind the scenes" and otherwise unreported.
The biggest lack in the Journal, I believe, is in illustrations: photographs, cartoons, and any other visually interesting material. We don't want to waste money printing "content-free" photos or "clip art", but it would be very nice to have more pictures of women at work, or science in action — especially for the cover.
Last year I mentioned that CSIRO would "soon be taking over" maintenance of WISENET's Web pages. For a variety of reasons (mostly related to my not following up diligently), this hasn't happened. In fact, the pages are woefully out of date, having not been revised in well over a year. This will soon change. Regarding the question of how much Journal content to put on the Web, following discussions with members we've decided to put the contents list of each issue of the Journal on the Web as soon as it is published (as I had been doing until the maintenance system fell apart), but not make the full text of the articles available until the next issue is published.
Various members of the Sydney WISENET group have now produced the Journal for over 5 years (15 issues). It's time for a new editorial team, in a different city, to take over, at least for one or two issues if not as a long-term project — as did a group from Lismore, Brisbane and Rockhampton in 1994 (issues 34 and 35). As a bare minimum, we need more WISENET members in other cities to contribute articles, news, illustrations and ideas.
Sarah Miller & Kirstin Heiland
WISENET made a financial loss of $1384 in 1996 with $5221 being carried over to 1997. This amount represents the cost of printing one issue of the journal, which was actually incurred in 1995. This means that last financial report was slightly misleading and the 1995 DITAC grant ($11853) did not cover all our extra expenses. This does not indicate any immediate problem as it means in 1995 WISENET used some of its financial reserves to catch up on some administrative work.
In 1996 income from membership subscriptions totalled $6100. This represents a further fall in subscriptions from $6429 in 1995 and from $7300 in 1994. In fact this was the lowest income from subscriptions since 1991 ($5944).
The low subscription income is due to the falling membership. The total number of members in 1996 was 244 compared to 294 in 1995 and 334 in 1997. Although WISENET continues to attract new members (21 in 1996), the issue of large number of members not renewing has been difficult to address. Although a membership drive has been discussed, it is unclear how to do this. The approach so far has been to raise the profile of WISENET. This includes joining FASTS and electronic networking via the listserv WIMSET.
Joining FASTS has many advantages (see Coordinators report) but the main cost is $1350 per year. Although this is a reduced fee, paying it without increasing subscriptions would soon eat into our financial reserves. It is therefore proposed, from 1998, to increase the standard subscription from $25 to $30, the reduced subscription from $10 to $13, and the top subscription from $30 to $35.
WISENET has been successful in obtaining a grant of $25,000 to produce special issues of the Journal in 1997/8. It is hoped that this will further raise the profile of WISENET. This report is accompanied by the Auditors report as at 31 December 1996, the Balance Sheet, and Income and Expenditure reports for both the General WISENET Account and the Grant Account.
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