Embargo until Thursday 25 May 2023
Franklin Women, Australia’s only professional community dedicated to supporting women across the health and medical research ecosystem, has today announced it has secured a 2-year grant from NSW Health.
The boost in funding will enable the grassroots social enterprise to build the team and systems needed for their sustainable growth and ongoing impact in the sector.
Founder Dr Melina Georgousakis said she started the organisation in 2014, when working as a researcher, in response to the loss of many highly skilled women from the workforce.
“I wanted to create an organisation that connects, invests in, and advocates for women pursuing careers across healthcare, and health and medical research, to retain their expertise in the sector,” said Dr Melina Georgousakis.
“I am so proud of what we have achieved since then and I am grateful to the women, allies and organisations who have seen the value of our work and supported us to reach this next phase of our growth,” she said.
Laboratory head at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and genetic counsellor A/Prof Jodie Ingles, who leads research on genes linked to inherited heart disease, says Franklin Women is a powerful professional community because of the tangible ways the organisation supports women in their careers.
“The community has been invaluable in opening a conversation about gender bias in our field but also supporting women in our various roles. I was fortunate to be part of their mentoring program which gave me the tools and confidence to make some big decisions impacting my career.”
“I’m now in the position to be able to recommend Franklin Women’s initiatives to my own team members and students to support the next generation of women leaders in our sector,” she says.
Dr Antonio Penna, Executive Director at the Office for Health and Medical Research, said that addressing barriers to women’s participation and career progression is an ongoing priority for NSW Health so that women can continue to be valuable contributors, particularly in the health and medical research sector.
“What Franklin Women has been able to achieve to date is extraordinary given it is run by a small team of casual employees and volunteers.”
“The funding provided by NSW Health recognises the effectiveness of their initiatives. It is clear Franklin Women are committed to building a strong and innovative health and medical research ecosystem in NSW, by supporting the careers of women through their network,” he says.
One of Franklin Women’s signature offerings is a cross-organisation mentoring program, which has supported over 200 mid-career women – a stage often affected by stagnation and loss – and over 200 mentors who learn inclusive leadership skills that they take back to their teams and organisation.
Professor Bruce Neal, Executive Director of The George Institute for Global Health, not only heads up a long-standing Franklin Women partnership, but has also acted as a mentor on the program.
“Working as a mentor in the early days of the program I learned a lot about the challenges faced by women in science, this program has been very clever in the way that it jointly supports women and educates men to drive change.
“Franklin Women has been central to improving gender equity in our organisation,’’ he said.
Sydney Local Health District was the first Local Health District in Australia to become a Franklin Women Partner Organisation, joining a growing alliance of organisations with a shared mission.
The District’s Chief Executive, Dr Teresa Anderson, said this exciting announcement would allow Franklin Women to support more high-potential women in their fields.
“Our partnership with Franklin Women has been a valuable contribution to our aim of continuing to build a diverse and inclusive health and medical research sector where women thrive,” she said.
Over the coming years, Franklin Women will focus on growing their skilled team and implementing a sustainable model for their operations, driven by their commitment to support their community for many years to come.