Issue 72 Contents
Women in Science in the Public Service
Job description...To provide technical advice on issues associated with pest risks to Australia and contribute to reviewing current policy and creating new policies associated with reducing the risk of pests and diseases to plants.
Background...I have a PhD in entomology specializing in the biological control of insect pests and insect/plant interaction. I have worked for numerous organizations (CSIRO, State Government, Private Industry, Universities around Australia on short term contracts, and overseas in the Galapagos Islands). I have worked for Horticultural, Agricultural and Environmental clients and moved interstate for work or study on average every three years since finishing High School.
Career history... Since my PhD I worked for six years in three academic positions. I applied for my current position as it allowed me to use some of my research skills and knowledge but obtain some job security.
Have you encountered negative stereotyping?I am fortunate that my department seeks to employ people with a high level of academic skills so there is a reasonable balance between the numbers of academically and non-academically trained staff. I have found that there is a notable difference in the approach to conducting work between people from these two backgrounds, and that the skills from academically trained staff are often unrecognized or underutilized.
Best/worst job aspects? I enjoy working in a large and mostly supportive team environment and with people from many different backgrounds. The worst aspect of my job would be that due to now being one in a group of many there is a loss of recognition for my contribution and level of achievements in the workplace.
Staying in touch with science... I am still publishing work from my past positions so I get to read a lot of journal papers and liaise with my former colleagues. I am also lucky that as part of my job I can keep in touch with some aspects of the latest developments in scientific research – particularly in the area of entomology.
Gender balance at work... The gender balance in my current work environment is certainly much better than in most of my past positions, where it was mostly male-dominated. However there is an imbalance in the number of senior managers with more men than women holding those positions.
Advice for beginners... I would say learn to be tough-skinned fast, talk with a deep strong voice and start to support your fellow female colleagues. Also get a female mentor whom you respect.
How do you relax?I relax by walking in the bush or listening to music, or reading a book on a rainy day. I have lots of interests such as art, singing and travel and like spending time with friends. What I like best is to be creative or dance at outdoor music festivals.
Issue 72 Contents