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The Baker Institute's Gender Equity Committee

The Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute's Gender Equity Committee was formed in 2014 to establish initiatives that support scientists to address the issue of female under-representation at senior levels at the Institute and more broadly, across the sector. Such initiatives include making available grants designed to minimise the effect of career breaks, such as maternity leave, on academic trajectories. As a result, two inaugural Women in Science Support Grants were announced in April 2015.

The Committee is also looking at a range of other issues, including equitable salaries for scientists; opportunities for researchers, in particular women to participate in leadership courses; and the implementation of mentors for researchers as part of the performance appraisal process.

To find out more about the Institutes's Gender Equity Committee contact Dr Anna Calkin.

SAGE pilot program

In September 2015, the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute was selected for the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot — an initiative of the Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE).

SAGE is the first Australian trial of the UK Athena Swan gender equity accreditation program. The Institute is pleased to be one of 40 science and research organisations nationally to participate in the pilot.

The Athena Swan Charter has had great success in addressing gender inequity in the higher education sector in the UK. In 2015, it celebrated its 10-year anniversary and has a membership that represents the majority of higher education institutions in the UK. Australia is the first nation to pilot this program beyond the UK and Ireland.

The Baker Institute recognises outstanding women in science

In December 2016, the Institute awarded Dr Bianca Bernardo the inaugural Alice Baker and Eleanor Shaw Gender Equity Fellowship — which aims to assist the advancement of women in science while removing some of the barriers they face in their scientific careers. 

The Alice Baker and Eleanor Shaw Gender Equity Fellowship is named in honour of two trailblazing women who were instrumental in the establishment of the Baker Institute in Prahran in 1926. In partnership with her husband, Alice Baker and her sister Eleanor Shaw co-financed a major biochemistry laboratory at the Alfred Hospital that became the Baker Institute. A philanthropist and an advocate for women’s rights, Alice Baker also sat on the National Council of Women and represented Australia at the International Council of Women and was awarded a CBE.

The recipient of the fellowship, Dr Bernardo is a Senior Research Officer in the Cardiac Hypertrophy Laboratory. Her work focuses on looking at new, targeted therapies that treat heart failure and identifying genes which could help minimise and even reverse the damage of this debilitating and potentially deadly condition.

Studies show while almost 50 per cent of science graduates in Australia are women, only 17 per cent of women occupy senior academic positions at universities and research institutes.

The Institute is committed to improving the representation of female scientists, particularly at senior levels.

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With the rising number of Australians affected by diabetes, heart disease and stroke, the need for research is more critical than ever.

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