Compiled by Judy Mackinolty
Striking a chord
It seems a far cry from BA studies in Biology/Zoology to a highly successful recording and performing career but such is the background of country music singer Anne Kirkpatrick, who graduated from Macquarie University in the '70s. As the daughter of the famous Slim Dusty, it was perhaps inevitable that a music career had more appeal than that of science teaching. (Source: Sirius, Macquarie University, Summer 1996)
Another to follow her father, but into science rather than music, is Dr Chloe Mason, daughter of the late foundation Professor of Physics at Macquarie University. Chloe combined student activism with studies in Earth Sciences (majoring in medical geography) at Macquarie University. She lectured in public health at UNSW and Sydney University before moving into a public service career in occupational health and safety. Her work in support of the case of 34 Wollongong women seeking work at the steelworks is a proud achievement. Further study has led to her position as an officer with the NSW Environment Protection Authority. (Source: Sirius, Macquarie University, Summer 1996)
Nicole Pickup, who graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Technology (Environmental Geochemistry) degree was awarded the Macquarie
Foundation Science Prize in 1996 and was named as a NSW Young Australian of the Year Environment finalist. (Source: Macquarie University)
Ninety-two year old Mrs Esme Brown joined some 200 other students aged between 55 and 93 at a special ceremony at Sydney University to recognise students who completed Materia Medica between 1924 and 1960 when the first Bachelor of Pharmacy degree program was introduced. (University of Sydney News, 6.3.1997)
For the book shelves
More than a Hat and Glove Brigade, by Barbara Curthoys and Audrey McDonald. The story of the campaign for women's rights and consumer rights from 1950. Union of Australian Women, Room 25, Trades Hall, 4 Goulburn St, Sydney 2000. Phone: (02) 92 64 28 80. Price: $24.95.
History of International Women's Day in Words and Images by Joyce Stevens. Contact NSW Department for Women, Level 11, 100 William St, Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011. Phone: (02) 93 34 11 60. Fax: (02) 93 34 10 23. Email: statwom@ slim.sinsw.gov.au
A medical first
Judith Whitworth, professor of medicine at University of NSW, has been appointed Australia's first female chief medical officer. (Source: SMH, 15.3.97)
A late first for women
The first and only woman to be elected President of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dame Ella Macknight died recently aged 92. While admiring her courage and her career, it is devastating to record such a recent 'first' for women as this (1970-72), especially in this branch of medicine.
Macknight, born in the small NSW town of Urana, graduated in medicine from Melbourne University. After training in obstetrics and gynaecology she was appointed as a consultant to the Queen Victoria Hospital in 1935, where she later founded the oncology department. Her career included being clinical dean of Monash University Medical school. (SMH 23 May 1997)
According to a report in The Australian (5.2.97) some 40 per cent of American science students do not complete their degrees. The authors of the research blamed some of this rejection on science's 'elitism' and the failure of science teaching to consider student needs. 'Classes are driven by a need to weed out weaker students rather than carry forward science-literate people.' Students complained of large impersonal classes, the lack of revision and consolidation, and the remoteness of teaching staff. The researchers claimed that women and minority groups suffer most from this form of teaching, stressing the need for feedback, help and encouragement.
Professor Dorothy Hill — more firsts
Palaeontologist Dorothy Hill AC died 23 April 1997 in Brisbane at the age of 89. In 1928 she was the first woman winner of a University medal on her graduation in science. In 1959 she was the first woman appointed to a professorial chair — Research Professor of Geology at Queensland University. Other firsts for a woman include becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society (1965), President of the Australian Academy of Science (1970) and Chair of the Professorial Board (1971). Apart from all this she played hockey, held a pilot's licence, worked on codes with the WRANS during World War II, taught and published. A Chair of Palaeontology and Stratigraphy has been set up to honour her name as has a library. (SMH 23.5.97)
The only remaining tower of the old Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne has been converted into a modern facility for women. Assisted by a State grant of $4.7 million the restoration has involved converting old wards into conference facilities, information centres and a major function room. Future plans include the provision of shops, professional rooms and a bar and bistro on the roof. Victorian women are encouraged to support the centre by donating to the Shilling Fund. (Women in Medical Science Newsletter February 1997)
Women and health
The annual report of Women's Health in Industry (NSW) outlines the aims of the organisation and gives a summary of its services and activities. It expresses concern at Federal Government amendments of the Industrial Relations Act and includes an interesting and timely discussion of outwork in the clothing industry.
Top doc chooses the country
University of Western Australia's top medical student for 1996, Julie McArthur will complete a one-year internship at a Canberra teaching hospital before becoming a country GP. Julie received the highest aggregate marks in final year and won four prizes. She is especially interested in paediatrics and Aboriginal medicine. (Uniview)
Aboriginals in science
Jodie James was selected as the best Aboriginal female Year 12 student in 1995. She is now one of five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at UWA studying medicine. Her sister, Naomi, has completed a degree in architecture. Jodie hopes to work with her own people on graduation.(Uniview)
Agents for change
Rosemary Pringle's inaugural professorial lecture looked at some of the changes brought about through increasing numbers of women entering medicine. She argued that there has been some democratisation across a range of specialities and that as women doctors have sought to balance career and family, traditional notions of career paths for doctors are changing. Many patients appear to choose women GPs as being more able to communicate, to empathise, and to provide help with problems based on gender inequality. (AIWRAP-UP November 1996)
Girls and engineering
The sixth Girls in Engineering Summer School saw 80 girls from Sydney, ACT and country NSW beginning year 11 studies participate in laboratory work and workshops, surf the Internet, tour BHP Steelworks and visit the Science Centre. The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Wollongong was pleased at responses to the three-day residential school, 76 per cent indicating the experience had opened up new career options and even more expressing confidence in considering work in non-traditional areas. (Facets, March 1997)
Equal pay fighter
Many women who knew Edna Ryan as a fighter for equal pay and as the author of Gentle Invaders and Two Thirds of a Man will be sad to hear of her death last February. Many who did not know her can be glad of her untiring efforts on behalf of women workers.
Invisibility no longer anecdotal
The different treatment of men and women in and by the media has been well known for some time but has only recently been documented. The Global Media Monitoring Report found, for example, that men over 35 are ten times more likely to be interviewed than women of the same age, and in the age group 18 to 34 men are twice as likely to be interviewed as women. One of the project co-ordinators pointed to the male culture of the newsroom as a major factor: 'it's not news unless it's a boy speaking'. (Media Centre News 1 April 1996)
Visible but ...
Further to the above. In a mood not dissimilar to Samuel Johnson's comments on a woman preaching, the Sunday Telegraph (1.6.97) had a double page spread on women in non-traditional work. Plumber Joanna Ellis, builder Claire Fenton, automotive electrician Christine Rudge, and carpenter and joiner Melissa McCafferty were featured as challenging traditional stereotypes. A tabular breakdown of occupations by gender clearly indicated the sex-segregation of the Australian workforce. So it was disappointing but not surprising to find a male employer's comment: 'Women do not possess the physical make-up to be competent in heavy manual work, just as men do not make pretty bridesmaids' (!) but then the story was given the title 'Blue Collar BABES'. It is hoped young women considering their future careers can overlook the headline and appreciate the message from the women trail blazers. According to the story the ACTU is planning a conference for women in male-dominated industries in July.
A report, The Howard Government and Women, one year on, says that the Government 'is committed to increased support for a reconstituted science, engineering and technology awareness programme to address issues such as the poor remuneration paths for scientists, the low participation rates of women in the physical sciences and engineering and the continuing loss of Australian research and intellectual property to overseas interests'.
It will support conferences and public debate on issues relevant to women in science, engineering and technology. In the area of higher education the Government 'is still concerned that women are under represented in some areas of study, post graduate level courses and in senior academic and administrative positions.'
Jan Althorp is the new Executive Director for the Australian Science Teachers Association. She has moved to Canberra from South Australia where she had wide experience in teaching and in policy and curriculum development. The homepage address is http://sunsite.anu.edu.au/asta/ (Facets, March 1997)
Science, women and the ABC
Two of the three science graduate trainees selected to work with the ABC Multimedia Unit are women. Natasha Mitchell is an engineeer and a graduate of the Questacon/ANU science communication course with experience in public and educational radio and academic coordinator for the Women in Engineering Unit at UTS. Rae Fry is a human ecologist who has worked as a National Landcare facilitator and a scientific editor and reporter. (Facets, March '97)
On the road again
Each year fifteen young science graduates take part in the Shell Questacon Science Circus to perform science shows in schools to children of all ages and to set up 50 hands-on exhibits in local venues. The graduates also enter the ANU Graduate Diploma in Scientific Communication. Thus, the circus gives practical experience and the theoretical instruction is provided by ANU, Questacon, Communications Research Institute of Australia and visiting lecturers. Last year the Circus took its show to over 400 schools and about 90,000 people. Contact: Jenny Edwards (06) 270 2873. (Centre for Public Awareness of Science, ANU - Newsletter April 1997)
In the graduation ceremony at the University of New England on April 17 two women scientists were recognised in the Teaching and Research Excellence Awards in the individual category. Internationally renowned Professor Lesley Rogers from Physiology was awarded the Vice Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Research and Acram Taji, senior lecturer in Horticultural Science and the only woman academic in the Department of Agronomy and Soil Science earned one of the two Teaching Excellence Awards.
A Federal Government Report, The Effects of the Introduction of Fee-paying Postgraduate Courses on Access for Designated Groups, reveals that women, indigenous students and those from poorer families are disadvantaged with the introduction of up-front fees for post-graduate courses. It makes the point that the number of postgraduate students forced to pay fees had risen by almost 10 per cent over the last two years and found that men were twice as likely as women to have their fees paid by employers.(SMH 21 May 1997
Career Review of Women in Engineering is a joint project between Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia that aims to survey the careers of women in engineering beginning with a mail survey to identify issues of importance to women's careers in engineering. Contact: Wendy Smith (03) 94 27 76 60.
On behalf of members, WISENET has sent a letter of congratulations to Pru Goward on her appointment as women's adviser to the Prime Minister.
Women on women
Spinifex Press catalogue lists books on feminism, the Internet, health, Asia Pacific, women's lives, arts and culture, fiction and poetry. Contact: Spinifex, 504 Queensberry St, (PO Box 212), North Melbourne, Victoria 3051. Phone: (03) 93 29 60 88, Fax: (03) 93 29 92 38, email firstname.lastname@example.org
New women fellows of AAS
Three new women Fellows have been elected to the Australian Academy of Science:
Congratulations to each of them.
New CSIRO divisional head
The new chief of the CSIRO Division of Tropical Agriculture is Dr Elizabeth Heij. This is the same Elizabeth Williams who addressed WISENET on "My Brilliant Career" at our 1993 AGM. Her talk was printed in WISENET Journal 33, December 1993.
4000 years of women in science
This women featured on this web site are pre-20th century, a real wealth of information.
New generation of scientists
A group of young scientists have established the Next Generation of Australian Scientists Society (NGASS) and a web site entitled "Australia’s Next Wave".
The web site is the vehicle by which the society hopes to communicate ideas between young Australian Scientists and assist science students in deciding their study and career options.
It includes career profiles of young Australian scientists, advice on job hunting and links to relevant job and scientific sites.
Membership is free and open to everybody.