Compiled by Judy Macinolty
"Anyone who has ever watched and wondered how a bird flies or a leaf unfurls, or concluded anything on the basis of his own observations is a scientist. Science is a part of life." (from the novel K-PAX by Gene Brewer, Bloomsbury Publishing, London 1996, page 86)
Senior clinical neuropsychologist Dr Diana Caine of Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital has been awarded a Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship. The award will enable her to visit Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for three weeks and spend nine weeks in England at a Cambridge hospital specialising in the diagnosis of dementia.
Scholarship in action
Professor Colleen Stainton, Chair of Women’s Health Nursing in the Department of Family and Community Health in Nursing used the words "scholarship in action" to sum up nursing today. Speaking at a graduation ceremony, she also made the point that "landmark contributions to medical knowledge and hospital practice made by nurses were often neither recognised nor rewarded in the form of improved research funding". Source: University of Sydney News 19 June 1997)
Staff cuts reduce research
Pru Goward, Executive Director of the Office of the Status of Women, told a Senate Committee in June this year that $800,000 in research funds had not been spent due to staff cuts which had reduced the OSW from 48 to 25 staff members. She added that staff would shortly be increased to 30 and priorities for research for 1998 would soon be finalised. Likely areas would be part-time work, superannuation and domestic violence. Belinda Neal, speaking for the Opposition, claimed that since research was carried out by outside consultants, the excuse of reduced staff in OSW was unsatisfactory since "research wasn’t done because there was nobody there to make decisions about which projects to do". (Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 3 June 1997)
A report of the Summit on Body Image and Eating Disorders in Sydney in 1996 was launched by Dr Andrew Refshauge, Minister for Health and Faye Lo Po, Minister for Women in April 1997. A resulting Ministerial Committee has been set up to devise preventative strategies. Chaired by Ms Libby Darlison of the Premier’s Council for Women it comprises representatives from advertising and the media, the fashion industry, the medical profession and government. The Committee aims to suggest ways to develop healthy body image and body satisfaction among young women, positively portray different images of women, and increase self esteem and knowledge of nutrition. Copies of the summit report are available from: NSW Health, Better Health Centre, 162 Blues Point Road, North Sydney 2060. Phone: (02) 9954 1193. (Source: Womenspace, issue 5, Autumn 1997)
Barbara McClintock was awarded a Nobel Prize for her research into genetics. She was then in her eighties. She developed staining techniques which enabled the details of chromosomes to be observed and made important discoveries about gene position, regulation and expression. For some time her ideas were rejected because they differed from the then acceptable scientific "truths". (Source: Gender Issues, no. 3, July 1997, NT Dept of Education)
Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry has issued two publications aimed at encouraging women to study science. Breaking the mould reports on strategies that have been used successfully. These include the introduction of female role models "who ideally should have an attractive and vivacious personality and be leading active personal and family lives". They also include "providing opportunities for pre-school children to play with tools, equipment and machinery". According to Chemistry in Britain, June 1997, the second publication, X2: The Mystery of the Vanishing Girls, "resorts to patronising references to "makeovers" and a problem page to challenge the odd ‘reasons’ why people think girls vanish; engineering is boring; technology is for boys".
"Male" work = higher pay for women too
Women are moving away from the traditionally female caring professions into traditionally male courses which offer good job prospects and higher than average salaries, such as law and business, where the growth rate of female enrolments is about double that of men. President of the National Tertiary Education Union Dr Carolyn Allport warned, however, that growing female enrolments might well be slowed because of the Federal Government’s decision to increase tuition fees for new students in courses which cost more to run or which appear to offer a higher income after graduation instead of the flat rate. (eg $4,700 per year in business, economics, science and engineering; $5,500 per year in law, instead of $2,500). Acting President of Sydney University’s SRC, Ms Louise Buchanan, noted that "women have been affected by financial barriers much more than men, so we could see a change in the future". (Source: SMH 18.7.97)
Scientists on video
The Australian Science Festival in April featured videotaped interviews with five scientists, Prof Frank Gibson, Prof Frank Fenner, Sir Rutherford Robertson, Dr Douglas Waterhouse, and Prof Gordon Ada. In addition four tapes have been donated to the Film and Video Lending Collection (Nossal, Bennett, Stone, Oliphant) and three further interviews have been completed, (Carver, Badger, Christiansen). (Source: Australian Foundation for Science, Progress report, 1 Jan – 30 June 1997).
It is to be hoped that the Fenner Fund which supports the project might address the obvious gender imbalance.
Women and short-term contracts
Dr Elizabeth Truswell, a paleontologist elected to the council of the Australian Academy of Science, has commented that women were disadvantaged in science by the growing fondness of Universities for short term contracts which appear to apply to a higher proportion of women than men. For women, especially those trying to balance family and career this often means a broken career path. (Source: Weekend Australian, 10-11 May 1997)
The Australian Academy of Science has developed a site, Nova: Science in the news, http://www.science.org.au/nova/ aimed at filling the gaps left by text books and offering exciting topics for students, journalists and the general public. To date 29 topics are being or have been developed. For more information: Nancy Lane, Phone (02) 6247 5777, Fax: (02) 6257 4620, or email email@example.com.
DNA era research
Molecular biologist Prof Suzanne Cory was awarded the Burnet medal this year for her research work in immunology and cancer. Her predecessor as Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Professor Nossal, commented "She is a child of the DNA era... She is an absolute master in molecular biology ... so quite apart from her outrageous giftedness as an individual, she also happens to be in the right discipline for the day".(Source: Weekend Australian, 10-11.5.97)
The Jessie Street National Women’s Library is facing serious housing difficulties. The Marrickville site has been abandoned due to rising restoration costs but the library must move from the Writers’ Centre by the end of December. A large number of possibilities has been explored but to date there is no solution. Negotiations are proceeding with the State Library and the City of Sydney Library. In the meanwhile, volunteers are being sought to help in the library or to transcribe oral history tapes. Contact: Phone/Fax: (02) 9876 3927 and Phone: (02) 9555 9376. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the bookshelf
A new edition of Removal of the Commonwealth Marriage Bar: a documentary history, edited by WISENET member Marian Sawer (of the Australian National University), celebrates 30 years since the end of the rule that enforced women in the Australian public service to resign on marriage. The book is available from the University Co-op Bookshop, University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT 2617. $19.85 plus $5 postage and handling.
A back seat for women
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is reported to be critical of the Federal Government’s performance on a wide range of issues including its reporting process and its failure to follow guidelines. Barbara Palmer, who attended the meeting on behalf of national women’s organisations stated: "They were particularly concerned about issues like how the Government will know the status of women’s health since responsibility has been devolved to the states, and what measures have been put in place to monitor the effect of enterprise bargaining on women". She pointed to the need for a real Government commitment to women, a strong Office of the Status of Women and better consultation. "We never again want to be in the position that a United Nations committee can tell us that the Australian Government is letting down Australian women", she concluded.
Brief suggestions from Advancing Our Careers: A conference of academic women at the ANU include: Set and work toward both short and long term goals; Become more informed; Apply for available resources; Expand national and international networks; Help to create a supportive climate for women; Learn to "sell" yourself; Set limits to ensure time for your family, your friends and yourself.
Perhaps we could add, for general readership; Try such a conference in your own workplace with a combination of lectures and workshops. Conference convenor was Kathleen Quinlan, Centre for Educational Development and Academic Methods, Canberra ACT 0200.
Women in business
A new web site, Australian Business Women (ABW), is designed for women who own, manage or run their own businesses. It includes a news section, profiles, reviews and statistics and is planning a calendar of events. It can be found at http://www.abol.net/abl/buswomen.htm
The Australian Film Institute catalogues Women’s Issues for the 90s and Women and Gender 1996 are available from PO Box 522, Paddington, NSW 2021 (for readers in NSW, ACT or NT), or from 49 Eastern Road, South Melbourne, Vic 3205.
An article in the travel section of the Weekend Review (July 19-20) covered very different holidays - working with other volunteers to conserve a part of the environment. The Landscope Expedition featured in the article was run by the University of Western Australia, Nedlands 6009 in conjunction with the WA Dept of Conservation and Land Management (CALM). Phone: (08) 93 80 24 33.
It centred on Peron Peninsular where attempts are being made to establish a 1050 sq km wildlife haven for threatened arid-zone native animals. Other organisations running volunteer programs are Earthwatch, 457 Elizabeth St, Melbourne 3000, phone: (03) 9600 9100 and Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers, PO Box 423, Ballarat, Vic 3353, phone: (03) 5333 1483.
Chair of the Australian Research Council
New Chair of the Australian Research Council is biologist and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Queensland University of Technology, Professor Vicki Sara.
Women in real estate
Holding the Keys: Women in Real Estate is a report from a 6-month research project from the National Centre for Women at the Swinburne University of Technology. The report, based on results of interviews with over 50 women in the real estate industry in Australia, with recommendations for action, is available from the National Centre for Women; contact Ros Harris, 03 9214 8633.
Woman of the Year in Non-traditional Areas of work and study. Nominations are requested in the following categories:
Nomination forms are available from Reply Paid AAA218, Swinburne University of Technology National Centre for Women, PO Box 218, Hawthorne Vic 3122.
Large teaching grant
The largest 1997 government grant to a university for teaching development has been awarded to a multi-disciplinary team at the University of Sydney headed by WISENET member Professor Ann Sefton (Physiology), Judy Kay (Computer Science) Simon Carlisle (Physiology) and Tony Koppi. Problem-based learning in medicine and computer science will be developed.
Students make replica of Gutenberg press
Three students have built, as part of a first year history project at the University of Sydney, a working replica of the moveable-type printing press developed by Gutenberg in the fifteenth century. The replica, 60 cm high, was built from scrap timber and brass. The introduction of printing five centuries ago made a huge impact on social development.
Women’s constitutional convention
The National Women’s Media Centre has provided information on the Australian Constitutional Convention to be held 2–6 February and 9–13 February in Old Parliament House, Canberra. Women are urged to be involved, to achieve the aim of equal representation of women and men at the People¹s Convention.
The Women’s Constitutional Convention, to brief women before the People’s Convention, will be held 29-30 January in Canberra. Contact Christina Ryan, tel/fax 02 6249 7042, email@example.com
Medals awarded at ANZAAS
At the ANZAAS Congress in Adelaide in October, the prestigious Mueller Medal was awarded to WISENET member Professor Marilyn Renfree, Professor of Zoology at Melbourne University. The Mueller Medal, honouring pioneer botanist Sir Ferdinand von Mueller, is awarded annually for distinguished work in any of the disciplines Anthropology, Botany, Geology or Zoology.
The ANZAAS Medal, awarded for distiction in Australian scientific research, was awarded to Professor Graham Johnston, Professor of Pharmacology at Sydney University. In his acceptance speech, Graham Johnston referred to the importance he placed on mentoring in science careers, and acknowleged WISENET’s Diana Temple as one of his mentors.
CAPOW! Working group on women’s access to the new technologies
Gillian Polack has set up a working group on women’s access to information technologies for CAPOW! The group began work on 6 August. It is looking at ways of ensuring that Australian women do not miss out on the current IT revolution. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Windows on women
In the UK some 30 regional events showcased women working in science, engineering and technology. It was co-ordinated by the British Association for the Advancement of Science and ranged from a road show in North Scotland to an interactive exhibition at a school of mining in Cornwall. In addition to the events there were several competitions. A copy of the list of events can be obtained from Jenny Flood on (06) 213 6456. (Source: Facets 27, Vol 7 Number 3)
National Science Week 2-10 May 1998
National Science Week is a celebration of Australian science through an annual festival of events centred around science and technology. A joint project of the Australian Science Festival, the Australian Science Teachers Association and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, it is funded by the Department of Industry, Science and Tourism.
For more information on how your group can participate, contact Alison Walker, Coordinator,
PO Box 193, Civic Square, ACT 2608, phone 02 6205 0281, fax 02 6205 0638, email email@example.com