| Issue 59 Contents |
It concerns WISENET that our membership, although Australia-wide, is few. Through legislative and attitudinal changes, workplaces have improved for women, but while women comprise less than a ‘critical mass’ (30%?) in science and technology (SET) there remains a need for a network like WISENET.
Of particular concern is the small proportion of those very successful women who have reached the top in SET who have joined WISENET. The Athena Project in Britain (see p. x) , which aims to push for the advancement of more women in SET, is successful, we are told, because the big guns like Professor Julia Higgins are behind it. This has not happened in Australia. The WISENET membership does include some professors and heads of research divisions and institutions, but many such women have sidestepped invitations to join.
One distinguished woman has publicly denied the need for special consideration, arguing that if she could make it to the top on merit alone, why cannot other women? Perhaps she has been atypically fortunate. Even for very able women career paths are seldom straightforward. Biological and social responsibilities for family and future generations and some male attitudes often handicap women’s careers. Patches of discrimination, sometimes covert, remain in SET as in other workplaces, and we hear sad individual tales.
This issue contains a short contribution from Professor Emeritus Mary O’Kane, a high achiever in technology and administration, who last year resigned as vice-chancellor of the University of Adelaide. Few of us women in science and technology reach these top levels, many do not aspire to, but successful women owe it to all women, including those less successful, to join WISENET and push for an end to the glass ceiling.
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