Mater Research recognised at Women in Technology Awards

Tuesday 05 September 2017

Mater Research was awarded the Employer of Choice Small Business Award at last week’s Women in Technology (WiT) Awards ceremony held at Royal International Convention Centre.

The prestigious WiT annual awards now in their 20th year are about celebrating women who are leaders and experts in their fields, succeeding in traditionally male dominated technology and life science industries.

The Employer of Choice Small Business Award was presented to Mater Research for ‘clearly recognising the challenges that women face in climbing the academic ladder.’

Mater Research Deputy Director Operations Dr Maree Knight said Mater Research activities fall at the intersection of research, education and health areas and employees often need to share multiple working roles across several working locations.

“Mater Research is committed to reducing the burden of this on our employees, by supporting flexible working arrangements that best suits their personal working styles, including home-based work and desk hopping locations,” Dr Knight said.

“By creating choice and creating agility, Mater can meet present and future challenges in response to fluctuations in workload and competing objectives and ultimately make for a better working environment and retain talented employees.”

Mater Research has undertaken a number of strategies to support women’s equal opportunity and advancement including:

  • establishing a Gender Equity Working Group (GEWG) to support the achievement of Mater Research’s equality objectives, advocating for gender equity and allocating substantial grants for women to advance their careers. 
  • establishing the Mater Research Strategic Grant for Outstanding Women to support the research and career progression of high potential female researchers at Mater Research and provides funding support to the value of $45,000 per annum for two years to two successful applicants.
  • implementing a number of formal policies that guide employees in relation to recruitment practices, equal opportunity and anti-discrimination that have embedded gender equity practice
  • partnering with The University of Queensland (UQ) in the Athena Swan program to assess gender diversity and equity
  • focusing on promoting STEM amongst school aged girls.

Significantly, Mater Research Deputy Chairman Dr Carrie Hillyard was jointly awarded the Sue Wickenden Entrepreneurial Established Award with Bernadette Hyland for her vision, leadership and initiative in establishing her own enterprise.  Dr Hillyard also received the Life Sciences Outstanding Achievement Award for her significant contribution to the growth and development of Queensland’s Life Sciences industry.  Dr Hillyard is currently an Angel investor and Chairman of Fitgenes as well as Deputy Chairman of Mater Research and is an exemplar of Mater Research’s achievements across the organisation.

Mater Researcher Dr Sumaira Hasnain was nominated for the Life Sciences Rising Star Award for her significant contribution to the growth and development of her team and organisation.  Although Dr Hasnain has less than seven year’s post-doctoral experience, she has made a significant contribution to Mater Research and has previously won 12 awards including a Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research (2012) and the outstanding women's award (2017) from Mater Research, as well as the prestigious 2013 Queensland Premier’s Postdoctoral Research Award.

Mater Research’s application outlined a number of other case studies of women at Mater Research who are enjoying successful careers in research:

  • Associate Professor Allison Pettit, Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow and leader of the Bones and Immunology Mater’s Research Group. She is also Head of Research Strategy and Chair of the Gender Equity Working Group at Mater Research.
  • Professor Josephine Forbes, Program Leader of the Chronic Disease Biology and Care research theme at Mater and a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Research Fellow.  She has recently been awarded the inaugural Women in STEM Award.
  • Professor Vicki Flenady is Director of the Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence (CRE), National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Research Fellow at Mater Research and lead of the Stillbirth Research Group.
  • Associate Professor Ingrid Winkler is National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Research Fellow at Mater Research and head of the Stem Cells and Cancer group at Mater Research.

“Mater comes from a solid base in supporting its staff but has coupled that with gender specific initiatives to ensure that women are empowered and encouraged to excel,” Dr Knight said.