Sydney, Monday 11 September 2023
Grassroots social enterprise, Franklin Women has awarded six health researchers funding to alleviate barriers associated with unpaid caring responsibilities so they can take advantage of career opportunities.
This innovative Carer’s Scholarship was introduced by Franklin Women in response to the loss of talented women in scientific research in Australia. The scholarship acknowledges the impact that unpaid caring responsibilities for young children or elderly family members has on their ability to embrace and fully participate in professional opportunities.
This is the eighth year Franklin Women, a social enterprise that supports Australian women working in health and medical research, has offered the award. This highlights that not much has changed with respects to professional barriers faced by primary carers forging careers in science.
“We see many women entering the healthcare and health research workforce but unfortunately we don’t do a great job of retaining them with a loss of these highly skilled women over the course of their careers,” said Dr Melina Georgousakis, founder of Franklin Women.
“One of the contributors to this is that women still assume a large proportion of unpaid caring responsibilities which has a big impact on their ability to take part in career opportunities. It’s not spoken about enough.
“This scholarship is to provide immediate support to these women at this critical time, so we don’t lose their expertise. Systems change is happening but slowly.”
Sydney Local Health District proudly partners with Franklin Women to deliver the Carer’s Scholarship , illustrating the District’s commitment to retention of women in the health and medical research workforce.
“The District is proud to be associated with Franklin Women – they do such important work in helping women stay in, and thrive in, the health and medical research space,” Dr Teresa Anderson AM, SLHD Chief Executive said.
“Having been a working mum myself, I know only too well the challenges of juggling a career with raising children and I’m so happy this scholarship helps alleviate some of that struggle.”
This year’s recipients are researching diverse health areas including mental health, autism and medical technologies, illustrating the important contributions these women make to the health of our communities.
Scholarship winner Dr Bao Nguyen is a clinican-scientist, developing an intracranial pressure measuring device at the University of Melbourne. She is also the primary carer of two young children as well as her ill father.
Dr Nguyen will use the scholarship funds to pay for additional days of childcare so that she can attend a health technology accelerator workshop focused on bringing her device to market.
Upon receiving the award Dr Nguyen said,
‘“I am grateful for this support from Franklin Women at such a critical career pivot for me. The Carer’s Scholarship will boost my ability to commit to the medtech development and commercialisation pathway.”
Dr Claire Wilkinson, a mid-career leader in research to advise policies relating to the control of alcohol and drug use, and the sole parent of her 11 month old son, is also a recipient .Claire is using the funds for additional days of childcare, so she can undertake the intensive work required to submit a highly competitive government grant to secure the future of her research. She shares,
“It’s wonderful to have a scholarship that can be used for practical support, such as childcare and meals. As a solo parent, whose family lives interstate, the scholarship is enabling me to apply for a research grant to support my research into the future.”
The six recipients of the 2023 Franklin Women Carer’s Scholarship are:
Dr Bao Nguyen, University of Melbourne
Dr Rebecca Poulsen, Macquarie University
Dr Claire Wilkinson, University of New South Wales
Dr Kate Filia, University of Melbourne
Dr Yufeng Zhao, University of Wollongong
Dr Sarah Scealy, University of Sydney
In 2024, the Franklin Women Carer’s Scholarship will be awarded twice, with the hope of enabling a greater number of candidates to participate fully in valuable opportunities necessary for their career progression.
Applications for the first scholarship round are now open and Franklin Women encourages all health and medical researchers who are also primary caregivers to apply.
For further information, including eligibility criteria and key dates, please visit https://franklinwomen.com.au/scholarship/
Franklin Women is Australia’s only professional community dedicated to supporting the careers of women working across the health and medical research ecosystem.
Sydney Local Health District
Sydney Local District is responsible for the health and wellbeing of more than 740,000 people living, working or studying in the centre and inner west of Sydney, as well as many more from rural and remote parts of NSW and Australia.