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Science, Women

Media Alert: International Day of Women and Girls in Science – expert commentators available

La Trobe University 3 mins read

Women in Science Leadership: A New Era for Sustainability is the United Nation’s theme for International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2024. La Trobe University science experts are on hand to celebrate and discuss the importance and benefits of women and girls in science and how we can break down barriers and encourage more girls to pursue studies in science subjects.

February 11 is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day to raise awareness of the ongoing under representation of women in STEM disciplines. The day is an opportunity to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.

This day is important because:

  • Women are often given smaller research grants than their male colleagues.
  • While women represent 33.3% of all researchers, only 12% of members of national science academies are women.
  • In cutting edge fields such as artificial intelligence, only one in five professionals (22%) is a woman.
  • Despite a shortage of skills in most of the technological fields driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, women still account for only 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of graduates in computer science and informatics.
  • Female researchers tend to have shorter, less well-paid careers.
  • Women’s work is underrepresented in high-profile journals, and they are often passed over for promotion.

    Statistics above sourced from the United Nations website.

Professor Jenny Graves
Vice Chancellor's Fellow and Distinguished Professor at Latrobe University
E: M: 0429 320 972

Professor Begoña Heras
Head of the Structural Biology and Bacterial Pathogenesis laboratory at La Trobe University
E: M: 0410 896 595

The following can be attributed to Professor Begoña Heras:

“My advice to girls/women aspiring to STEM careers is to pursue your passion, be yourselves and be confident, find allies of all genders who will champion you, be resilient and embrace failures as learning experiences – which I know is difficult. Changes enabling greater female participation in STEM include flexible work arrangements, blind hiring/grant processes to reduce bias, mentoring programs, highlighting successful female role models and overall fostering inclusive environments where diversity is highly valued.”

Professor Belinda Abbott
Associate Professor Chemistry at La Trobe University
E: M: 0422 039 245

The following can be attributed to Professor Belinda Abbott:

“Chemistry is the basis of the world around us – the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the materials we wear, build from and are entertained by. Studying chemistry in secondary school is a great choice for all students so that they understand how our world works at a molecular level. Studying chemistry at university gives you the knowledge and skills to make new discoveries to help people – making stronger but lighter materials for cars and planes, faster computers, new fertilisers to grow more food or to make new medicines, which is the research area that I work in. It is challenging but rewarding to work in science.”

Dr Sarah Annesley
Head of the Molecular Cell Biology Group at La Trobe University
E: M: 0421 412 155

The following can be attributed to Dr Sarah Annesley:

“The biggest challenge working in this field has been balancing my two roles as scientist and mother. Both roles are all consuming. Having flexibility and support have been key to my success. Feeling connected and supported are known to improve outcomes in a workplace and in a competitive environment like research this is especially important.”

“Having role models is also key – when I was doing my PhD there were just two female academics in the department. I’m glad to say that’s no longer the case and having a range of role models and mentors has really helped me find a way of working that suited me and my family. We all do not need to fit the same mould.”

Professor Elly Djouma
Head of Microbiology, Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology Pharmacology at La Trobe University
E:  M: 0403 129 370

The following can be attributed to Professor Elly Djouma:

“Throughout my education, I didn’t encounter many women in leadership positions in STEM, let alone women from CALD backgrounds. Today I feel very proud when students ask me about my STEM journey. Being able to share my experience and inspire young women to pursue a career in STEM is hugely rewarding.”

“My words of wisdom to girls and/or women aspiring to have a career in STEM is to trust in your ability and persevere. There are so many paths that your career in STEM can take you - invest in yourself and you will find your way.”

For any other media enquiries, please contact the Media Team at La Trobe University on

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