About Franklin Women
Franklin Women is Australia’s only professional community dedicated to supporting the careers of women working across the health and medical research ecosystem.
Our vision is for a health and medical research sector where women thrive.

We hope to achieve this by:

building a community of like-minded individuals and organisations, offering support and networking opportunities
introducing and advocating for initiatives that address barriers faced by women in health and medical research careers
providing professional development and training opportunities in important skills outside of the technical sciences
showcasing talented women in the field, their diverse career pathways and the impact of their work

To do all this, we are going about things a bit differently. Unlike many organisations in the health and medical research space, Franklin Women is not a charity or not-for-profit. We are a for-profit social enterprise. This means we aim to derive income from business activities to bring about some social good – investing in our members!

We believe that keeping women in health and medical research related careers is something worth investing in. We hope you will get a lot out of being a part of Franklin Women but also feel good about supporting the cause.

We live by our guiding values of being innovative, influential, inclusive, and inspiring!

Our team

Dr Melina Georgousakis

Dr Melina Georgousakis

Founder, Franklin Women
Research and Policy Manager, Bupa Health Foundation

Email: melina@franklinwomen.com.au

Website: www.bupa.com

Dr Sarah Frost

Dr Sarah Frost

Events and Initiatives Lead, Franklin Women

Completed PhD within the Molecular Oncology Group, Children’s Cancer Research Unit, The Kid’s Research Institute 

Email: Sarah@franklinwomen.com.au

Haitian Jin (Helena)

Haitian Jin (Helena)

Accounts and Administration Officer, Franklin Women
Student, Diploma of Specialised Bowen Therapy, Bowen Training Australia

Email:  helena@franklinwomen.com.au

Dr Amy Vassallo

Dr Amy Vassallo

Newsletter Curator, Franklin Women 

Research Fellow, Women’s Health Program, The George Institute for Global Health. Honorary Research Fellow, Sydney School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney

Email:  Amy@franklinwomen.com.au

Ms Harriet Swearman

Ms Harriet Swearman

Social Media, Franklin Women
Fertility AI Consultant at Harrison.ai

Dr Amalie Dyda

Dr Amalie Dyda

Peer Advisory Group, Franklin Women
Research Fellow/Lecturer, Australian Institute of Health Innovation/Department of Health Systems and Populations, Macquarie University

Website: www.aihi.mq.edu.au

A/Prof Anita Heywood

A/Prof Anita Heywood

Peer Advisory Group, Franklin Women

Website: www.research.unsw.edu.au

Dr Devanshi Seth

Dr Devanshi Seth

Peer Advisory Group, Franklin Women
HEAD, Alcoholic Liver Disease Program, Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and cell Biology. Clinical Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney

Website: www.centenary.org.au

Dr Holly Seale

Dr Holly Seale

Peer Advisory Group, Franklin Women
Senior Lecturer, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales. Honorary Research Associate, Telethon Kids Institute.

Website: www.research.unsw.edu.au

Our why

There are several professional networks in Australia for women working in different industries, for example, business, IT and law. Just like in these industries, there are gender disparities across the Australian science sectors, including within the health and medical research sector. Yet, until Franklin Women, there was no independent professional community bringing together women working in this sector.

It is clear that we are losing women from health and medical research related career pathways. In academia, the disparities between genders increase with career progression, with fewer women holding senior scientific academic positions than men. The NHMRC report that women accounted for more than 50% of applicants for early career research fellowships, but only a very small proportion of applicants for their more senior fellowships (between 2013 and 2017). Even worse, it appears that we are not only losing many scientifically-trained women (and some men!) from academia, but from the health sciences sector altogether. This seems to be because of a perceived lack of skills and/or opportunities to transition into non-academic careers. We are effectively losing all of their scientific know-how and passion, often after an investment of 8 or more years of tertiary education.

The current grant-based funding system, as well as cultural barriers within the field, have contributed to these disparities. But this space seems to be changing – hooray! Many peak bodies in Australia have gender equity on the agenda and conversations around the need for employing people who are skilled in health sciences in non-academic roles are finally happening. Here are a few key reports and initiatives in the Women in STEMM space:

As a grassroots social enterprise, Franklin Women hopes to contribute to these efforts while supporting, inspiring, and promoting women who are currently working in health and medical research related careers.

What’s in a name?

Rosalind Franklin inspired our name.

You may know of her work, or you may not. If you have time to read about her story do, as it is fascinating both with respect to the science and also to see what it was like as a woman doing science in the early 1900s.

A brief run down…

Rosalind graduated from Cambridge in 1945 with a doctorate in physical chemistry. After a short stint in Paris where she learnt the technique of X-ray crystallography, she joined a research group at King’s College in London.

During her short career (Rosalind died from ovarian cancer at the young age of 38), she researched the structure of many biologics including the tobacco mosaic and polio viruses. However, the research she is most well known for is that of the structure of DNA.

By using X-ray diffraction, Rosalind captured an image of DNA (famously referred to as ‘Photo 51’) that led to the discovery of its double-helix structure. Without her knowledge, this photo was shown to her colleagues James Watson and Francis Crick at Cambridge University who correctly interpreted this finding and published it in the journal Nature in 1953. While Rosalind also published in that issue, it was not the primary publication. Watson, Crick and another researcher, Wilkins, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for this work in 1962. The Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously so Rosalind’s contribution was not acknowledged. Some say it would not have been even if she was alive, but we will never know!

What we do know is that her legacy as a pioneering health and medical researcher and as a strong, intelligent and resilient woman is definitely recognised today.

If you want to read her story there are numerous books. One we enjoyed is Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox.

The four publications in Nature and one in The Journal of Experimental Medicine describing the evidence that underpinned the discovery of the structure of DNA are available online.

Happy reading!

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Contact Us

E: hello@franklinwomen.com.au

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